Viewing: Humility - View all posts


"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment, and do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds, and shine."

"Happiness is not a memory but a reality. Reality is neither past nor future but only now. NOW is the greatest time there ever was."
~Nicholas Payton

"Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. So why not just be happy?"


When I was at Berklee in the 80s, the Boston jazz community was teeming with talented trumpet players.

There was the brilliant INGRID JENSEN, who had the freshest sound in town, the legendary HERB POMEROY, a lyrical master of bebop, and the ultramodern TIM HAGANS, a harmonically adventurous improviser of the Woody Shaw school. DAVE BALLOU was known for his pitch-perfect intonation and musicality, JEFF STOUT for his uncanny way with a standard, and KEN CERVENKA for his inventive spontaneity. GREG HOPKINS could break your heart with a ballad, while the always soulful KENNY RAMPTON made the trumpet sing like no other. There was also the spirited ROY HARGROVE, a musical chameleon steeped in Blue Note tradition, the explosive ANDY GRAVISH, who channelled Freddie Hubbard at will, and TONY THEWET, a playful prankster with a gift for infectious island rhythm.

The scene was inspiring, to say the least, but it could also be quite intimidating. I was playing trumpet more than flugel in those days, and trumpet players tend to be a bit competitive by nature. Nevertheless, I tried to learn something from everyone and carve out a niche for myself.

Inevitably, whenever I grew confident about my place in the pecking order, I'd hear someone new who blew my mind.

In those moments, I felt like someone who had stumbled into the world of Highlander holding nothing but a pocket knife.

Like the time I worked on Brandt #6, a challenging etude for trumpet.

I had to sweat the thing for weeks before I could make its awkward intervals sound even remotely musical.

After I don't know how many hours in the practice room, I was finally ready to play the piece for my teacher. Sure enough, the hard work had paid off.

I was feeling pretty good about myself until the trumpet player in the adjacent studio began to mimic what I'd just played, only effortlessly, by ear, at a brighter tempo, and doodle tonguing it like Clark Terry.

But what really took the wind out of my sails was when he started cycling the melody through the keys.

I decided I'd better go over there, find out who it is, and pay my respects. Apparently no one had ever told this guy that playing the trumpet is difficult.

And that's how I met GREG GISBERT.