Krin Gabbard


On his book Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture

Cover Interview of December 25, 2008

A close-up

A casual reader might want to start with page 106, the beginning of “Bending Brass,” the chapter in which I tell the story of my own experience with the trumpet.  After playing in grade school and high school, I gave up the trumpet because most of the people in my college dormitory in the late 1960s preferred Frank Zappa and Paul Butterfield to Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong.  Although I played in a brass quintet at a Swedish Lutheran church, I really wanted to play jazz.  Furthermore, I had crooked teeth that made my horn droop down from my mouth instead of straight out in the heroic posture of the powerful trumpeter.  So I quit.  Thirty-five years later, I got my teeth fixed.  Shortly thereafter I bought a Bach Stradivarius middle-weight trumpet and began taking lessons.  Although I made VERY slow progress, I did spend some time playing with a Latin band in East Harlem.  For a brief period I was the band’s lead trumpeter, and on one glorious occasion I hit all seven of the high Cs in a solo in one of the numbers that the band regularly played!  I was on Cloud Nine.  My fascination with the horn led me to read up on its history and visit several trumpet factories. Art Farmer with a flumpet created by David Monette. (Photo by Ydo Sol.)

At the Monette factory, I made friends with David Monette, one of the most fascinating characters in the trumpet world today.  At the end of the chapter I tell the story of my bet with Monette.  He promised to give me a $200 gold-plated mouthpiece if I could identify several tiny images engraved on the elaborate flumpet that he had made for the great jazz artist, Art Farmer.  Knowing that Art switched between trumpet and flugelhorn, Monette invented a horn that was midway between the two, hence “flumpet.”  Read the end of the chapter to find out if I won the bet.