I went to a concert recently. Trumpeting legend Vincent DiMartino was appearing with the University of Indianapolis Jazz Ensemble. Those of you who know Vince or have heard him play will understand when I say he played with flair, great taste and just enough bravura to remind you he is one of the great virtuosos of our time.
But what made my evening was not just the great playing by Vince and the ensemble, ably directed by Freddie Mendoza, it was how Vince made an effort to connect with the audience and tell stories. The venue was not huge and one can easily see the audience from the stage. While it was nice of Vinnie to mention me and my product ChopSaver, what he did next was extremely touching. The man sitting next to me was Marvin Perry II, Principal Trumpet of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 38 years. Marvin (known as Chappy to most) and Vince went to college together at the Eastman School of Music many years ago. Not only did Vince say “Hi!” to Chappy from the stage, but he went on to say how much he learned from Chappy and others when they were students together, especially Chappy’s uncanny ability to play soft, a skill too many trumpet players ignore. There were other remarkable players there at the time and all were about to embark on amazing careers. But Vince made a point of talking about what he learned while sitting next to his college buddy’s. Each had their strengths and weaknesses and it was there that Vince learned the power of friendly competition while at the same time being a good, supportive, colleague.
Vince went on to talk about another legendary trumpet player from these parts, Larry Wiseman. Larry was a great musician who was taken from us way too soon several years ago. You can read a beautiful tribute to him here. Vince and Larry didn’t get to play together a lot, but when they did, they enjoyed those moments immensely. Larry, like Vince, was known for his soaring sound and stamina and having two great “lead” players in the same section doesn’t always work out so well as egos can get in the way. But that was never the case when these two men played together. Because what Vince remembered most were the simple things like what a jokester Larry was and how easy it was to play in unison with him. Unison means two or more people playing the same note or passage of notes perfectly in tune. It is the simplest, yet often the most difficult feat for two musicians to pull off, even amongst professionals. It requires give and take, compromise and the sublimation of egos for the good of the ensemble. Between the two of them, Larry and Vince have played a million “high/loud” notes, and beautifully so. But it was the “simple” stuff Vince wanted people to remember.
So there it was, the keys to music and, for that matter, life, in one impromptu, 5-minute monologue:
- Team work
- Being supportive
- Having a good time
- Learning from each other
- Friendships that last over decades
So next time you embark on a project, musical or otherwise, put those on your “To-do” list and see what happens. Thanks, Vince, for a great lesson!