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Entries in trumpet (2)


Why I love trumpeter Leroy Jones - Part 1 of Many  

Okay there is no getting around it; I love trumpeter Leroy Jones. It is as simple as that. When I decided to do a doc feature film about Leroy, I talked with other filmmakers who had done documentaries, and heard many stories about how it is a very complex relationship between the film director and subject. Not for me. As mentioned about two seconds ago, I just straight up love Leroy Jones. I’m fascinated by his trumpet playing, his charisma, and how he has become an ambassador of jazz from the great city of New orleans.


As part of the making of this film, I also wanted to chronicle the many things about Lee (as his friends call him) that are unique that might not have time to make it into the final film. Part of that is his huge discography he has amassed over the years. You could probably just make a doc film just discussing all of Lee’s amazing work on records as a bandleader, and as a guest trumpet soloist.


I’ll never forget the first time I heard Leroy Jones. Perhaps the summer 1992, I believe. A good friend of mine showed Harry Connick Jr’s album “Blue Light Right Light”. He presented it as if it was almost some special magical drug that only we could try. He was like “dude, you got to listen to this right now,” as he flashed it out of his backpack. We were definitely band and music nerds, and often could cut school to go home and work on music. Junior high school kids cutting school to go home and arrange and play big band music. I guess you could call it an addiction. So we immediately cut class this, jumped into his car and popped in the album. My buddy quickly cranked up the volume and skipped all the tracks until the last song.


The last song on the album is called “Just Kiss Me”, and it hits you like a wall of bricks when you first hear it. Intense, fast, loud, hard swinging and yet melodic at the same time. I had heard great big band stuff growing up; Ellington, Basie, Benny Goodman and the like. But this was different, the sound was different the feel was different and the arrangement of the song by Connick Jr. was very unique. So to realize that there was a modern big band swinging this hard in the 90’s brought a giant oversized smile to my face.


Then the solo break of the song hits, and Leroy starts his solo about the one minute mark of Just Kiss Me. At this point when Leroy starts soloing, my jaw just dropped down to the dirty car floor of my friends sweet 1973 toyota Celica. Lee’s huge trumpet sound, his quick dexterity, and mastery of the chord changes and his instrument were immediately noticeable as ripped through the fast moving solo. His solo (Which starts at about 49 seconds) comprises everything I love about Leroy and his trumpet playing, as he weaves traditional NOLA feel, to be-bop, to his own unique Jazz sound. All of it  all came through in this solo first solo I heard. So we all owe a great thanks so Harry Connick to exposing Lee to a larger audience, as this is when a lot of us got to first here Leroy.


I’ll be covering more of Leroy’s discovery as we go through the years, and hope to show more of of why Leroy jones is such an important figure to jazz music and new Orleans history.


Cameron Washington

-Director “A Man and His Trumpet: The Leroy Jones Story”



Sweet Sassy Molassy. “New” Recordings from Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong!

I missed this little gem over the last week, and am so very ecstatic that this came out. No, there was not a half million dollar hologram of Satchmo at Coachella. There is apparently an archived recording of Louis Armstrong performing live at the national Press Club in Washington on January 29th, 1971. This historic recording would be the last live recording of Louis before he passed away less than six months later on July 6th, 1971.

It’s really exciting news for us jazz and music nerds. Louis is my god, as he is for a lot of us jazz folks. He’s a mythical idol that us mere mortals only wish we could sound like on our best days. Louis had it all. He took the music of Europe, Africa, and America and created some of the most creative and brilliant music in history. His raspy marijuana tinged scatting is recognizable in a nano second. His technical abilities on trumpet and improvisations are unmatched decades later. His composing skills were light years before his time. In other words, God.

As a musician who has poked around on the trumpet since I was six years old, I have never been more angered or motivated by a musician than Louis Armstrong. Some days I spend hours transcribing a solo of his, trying to figure out why a certain solo is so bad ass. And some days, listening to him makes me want to throw my trumpet into Lake Merritt. Why even try, when I’ll never sound like Louis.

I am going to download this new Louis Album ASAP, and check back in after a listen through.

Check out this video from the AP with more background on the album.