Dmitri plays a very special flugelhorn that originally belonged to his mentor, the late jazz master Art Farmer.
“Trumpet players sometimes double on flugelhorn the way a sax player might double on flute or clarinet,” Dmitri explains. “But I was inspired by Art Farmer to dedicate myself entirely to the flugelhorn. Art proved that focused attention can yield extraordinary fluency.”
Designed by Zigmant Kanstul, the flugelhorn is one of three horns favored by Farmer in his performances and recordings of the 1970s and '80s. Matheny acquired the instrument after a duet performance of “Warm Valley” with Dr. Billy Taylor at Farmer's memorial service in New York City.
The horn weighs 2.5 lbs. Its bell, crafted in heavy wall copper-plated brass, is 6.5 inches in diameter. The leadpipe is 0.421 “large bore” as manufactured by French Besson for Boosey & Hawkes, based on a classic 1890 Paris Exposition design. Its valves are top sprung monel pistons with metal interior casings and a lacquered brass exterior, as manufactured by English Besson based on a design by Couesnon & Company.
Farmer made a number of modifications to the instrument, adding tuning triggers to the first and third valve slides and making custom valve caps inlaid with 1916-D Mercury dimes, an idea borrowed from symphonic French horn players of the era. Although weathered with age and oxidation, the name of the instrument's original owner is still visible, engraved on the flugelhorn's copper bell.