As someone used to performing so consistently, how did you manage last year when no shows were happening?
I was lucky to keep busy with some commissions to compose new works, and also to be able to spend time recording a couple of new albums, but not being able to get that visceral reaction from an audience definitely took its toll. Those first gigs back felt surreal, and I realised just how much I’d missed that energy you get from live performance!
How is this performance different from what you have done before? Is this a new line up or musicians you are used to playing with?
Perth, Wind, and Fire (a genius name by our drummer, Danny!) is unlike any other group I’ve played with. We play original arrangements of classic songs and themes tailored specifically for the players in the band. The concert at The Ellington on March 19 is themed “travelling,” so we’re going to be playing music inspired by various locations around the world to take the audience on a musical holiday. Hawaiian shirts and piña coladas, optional!
Does having so many trumpets allow you to explore the songs musically in new ways?
It’s actually been quite eye opening to uncover all the nuances and sounds available in the group. You might imagine five trumpets to be quite high, loud, and fast, but there are actually some beautiful and even tender moments in the set. Each player has a different approach to the instrument, and we’ve managed to take those individual voices to create a real variety of musical experiences. We each play the flugelhorn, a soft mellow cousin of the trumpet, as well, which adds another dimension. And there’s always the guy on sax that we allow to take the spotlight on occasion!
What are you looking forward to most about this show?
Playing with Perth, Wind, and Fire is always fantastic fun more than anything else, and we always have a ball. Some of the band have been playing together for almost 30 years, so it’s a chance to catch up and hang out and play music together, and I think that camaraderie shines through in our performances.
How did you start playing the trumpet and what was it that drew the instrument?
I grew up listening to great jazz music – Charlie Parker, the great big bands, Sinatra and more – and I started playing trumpet at age six. My father called me over one day, and I thought I was going to get in trouble for one thing or another, so when he pulled out a trumpet and told me I had a lesson that week it was a relief. It’s such a part of who I am now that I can’t remember much of my life when I wasn’t a trumpet player.
And what has been the most surprising thing you have been part of as a result of pursuing a career as a trumpet player?
I’ve been so fortunate to have travelled the world playing music, including touring for eighteen months to 66 cities in eleven countries with a chinese pop star called Jacky Cheung. Every day on that tour something crazy would happen, and you learn to “go with the flow,” “roll with the punches” and appreciate the immense variety of people and places that exist on this little planet.
What else have you got going on for the rest of the year? Any more live shows or more new music to look forward to?
A lot of my performing is in musical theatre, so there are a few productions coming up later in the year that I’ll be involved with. The Perth Symphony Orchestra have a number of great shows coming up that I’ll be playing on and I also have a special concert on May 24 at The Ellington which forms the final creative output of my PhD study. So I’ll be keeping fairly busy for the remainder of 2021, but I’m already looking forward to Perth, Wind, and Fire’s Christmas show on December 19.