Wow. An evening I didn’t want to end. Two trumpet superstars on the same stage at our world-class Jack Singer Concert Hall along with Calgary’s own Prime Time Big Band and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Jens Lindemann. Trumpet soloist extraordinaire from Los Angeles. Born in Germany but grew up in Edmonton so we can kind of claim him. He has blown away the music world with his classical and jazz music. And – he’s an insanely funny guy. He was the M.C. of the evening – keeping us in stitches – then hopping around the fairly crowded stage to play different horns here and there – probably driving the lighting people crazy. Many of us are at ease in front of a crowd as long as our instrument is between us and the audience; don’t ask us to actually talk. Lindemann is in his element on stage – spontaneously entertaining the audience musically and verbally.
Allen Vizzutti. Lindemann’s friend and mentor. Another phenomenal trumpet player on both the classical and jazz stage. Composer as well – we heard him in a few of his own pieces – and inventor of a number of trumpet techniques mastered by hardly anyone else. One can’t compare the two – they’re both that good – yet each had his own sound on a number of different horns (B-flats, piccolos, flugels). Lindemann’s favourite seemed to be an electric blue trumpet – an oddity among the other brass and silver horns lining the stage until Vizzutti brought out an eye-popping red trumpet.
Of course there were a few jazz numbers where they were both playing – opportunities for soloists to shine. Among lesser musicians and lesser men this could have degenerated into a battle of egos, but these friends were so gracious. A touching moment was the introduction by Lindemann of Al Muirhead – trumpet-player in the Prime Time Big Band and a number of other bands – well-known in Calgary jazz circles but deserving of so much more recognition. He is the epitome of class. The 3 of them played together, again always graciously giving each other the spotlight.
I have to put in a piano moment here. During My Funny Valentine, performed by Muirhead and Lindemann and the Prime Time Big Band, I heard bells. I looked around for a celeste or chimes or something but then realized it was Derek Stoll on piano. His touch was that beautiful. He’s the regular pianist for the Prime Time band and does a lot of playing and teaching in town (as an aside – I’ve known him since our high school days – we both turned out OK despite the school we went to!).
This almost-sold-out concert was on a Tuesday night. A week-night. I always think twice before planning anything on a week-night – it means re-scheduling students and I already had to do that for this evening (Wed) for something else – and on Friday for a conference. It’s a pain. But then I decided to seize this opportunity; I’ve missed too much because I didn’t want to bother trying to work it in. It was so worth it. I didn’t want the evening to end.
What this video from 2008 lacks in both video and audio quality, it makes up for as an example of the skill of Lindemann and Vizzutti – technical, musical, and the ability to pay off each other. Grab any opportunity you might have to see them live – nothing beats a live performance.