Chris Rich sent me his “routine” questions, and I answered them as briefly as possible. Feel free to click on the link:

An interview with BL at Chris Rich’s Boston Jazz Blog


This humble blog here is having our music and me as its main topic, and so I wanted to add some musicians and influences I forgot to mention in the above interview:

There are some other folks who inspired me too, but I won’t mention all those great swing musicians here. I will just list the many trumpeters, with one exception, a saxophonist who has changed my musical life completely: Lester “Pres” Young. When I heard him for the first time, I knew all of a sudden how to play the trumpet.

He really opened my ears. All “he” needed for that, my jazz-musical enlightenment, was a 30-minute portrait on Pres at the SDR Stuttgart around February / March 1983. The DJ was the late Dieter Zimmerle, the life companion of Gudrun Endres from JazzPodium, our nationwide jazz magazine. He played some of Lester’s most significant recordings from 1936 to 1959; and for all that he had only 30 minutes!

Note to the picture: Mr. Zimmerle is on the far right. We met at a local jazz club from where the SDR (SWR today) sent regular broadcasts. He was a humorous and humble man, always sartorially dressed, a real jazz ambassador. He was not interested in cool merchandising. When you listened to him on the radio, you noticed immediately that this man really loved jazz and the musicians.

Whom I forgot too – actually not! – were Kenny Dorham, Chet Baker, Tony Fruscella, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, and Woody Shaw. All expressive players, honest and deep. Rex Stewart and Don Cherry played also quite important parts in my evolution as a trumpet-improvisor.

Side note to the presence: Whom I discovered recently is Freddie Hubbard, although I don’t share his sometimes circus-like performances and the showing-off which overshadowed his mastership in his later period. I wrote quite a bit about that at Doug’s and my blog. I love his early Blue Notes and the albums he did with Bill Evans and Oliver Nelson. But as a free improvisor he was quite a miscast at Ornette Coleman’s “Free Jazz”, John Coltrane’s “Ascension” or Eric Dolphy’s “Out To Lunch” … Ouch!

Two of the real-life inspirations came from my big musical and otherwise very good friends and companions trumpeter Axel Dörner and Albert Winter, a composer of new music, and an outstanding action painter, and all in all each colleague who crossed my path as band member or at the umpteen jam sessions I had joined from Berlin to Cologne, from Barcelona to Paris, and from New York to New Orleans (all these places had been “blessed” with the presence of yours truly …)

The last remark should sound ironically … 😉

A P.S. which brings up yet two other inspirations:

When I was 12, I watched two movies on German TV which fired my still hidden love for the trumpet. One was The Five Pennies (1959), a bitter-sweet musical tragicomedy, telling the story of the quite underrated traditional cornetist Red Nichols and his “Five Pennies”, played by Danny Kaye, featuring the greatest jazz man on the planet: Louis Armstrong.

The other film, a remake (a fact I learned much later) of the Cooper-Stanwyck vehicle Ball Of Fire (1941), was A Song Is Born (1948), featuring Danny Kaye again, sexy Virginia Mayo and jazz and swing stars galore. The film is actually quite lame, but the music is fantastic.

The following musicians – a who is who of the swing era – played some major and minor roles in that movie: Benny Goodman as Professor Magenbruch, Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Barnet, Mel Powell, The Golden Gate Quartet, The Page Cavanaugh Trio, Al Hendrickson, Harry Babasin and Louie Bellson, the Duke’s brand-new drummer man, all as themselves.

Thanks to all of you, the living and the long gone, for your inspiration, your critical remarks and all the love to jazz I have the pleasure of sharing with you.

The Five Pennies Saints

This entry was posted in Jazz Stories & Tales, Invented Truths & Actual Happenings. Bookmark the permalink.