The Examiner News (article): A Cop’s Musical Passion

Mt. Pleasant Cop’s Musical Passion on Display in New CD

May 18, 2017 By Martin Wilbur

Twenty-year Mount Pleasant Police Officer Peter Blume’s debut CD was released this week, the culmination of a lifelong love of music and the trumpet.

Twenty-year Mount Pleasant Police Officer Peter Blume’s debut CD was released this week, the culmination of a lifelong love of music and the trumpet.

 

After Peter Blume graduated from Pace University, he did what countless other finance majors have done before and since – start a career in the corporate world.

 

But several years later, he left disappointed and longed to pursue a more meaningful calling.

 

Blume decided to become a police officer and for the past 20 years has served in the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the town where he grew up and has been raising his two children with his wife in Valhalla.

 

There is also another factor that helped influence Blume’s decision. With a short commute between work and home, the classically-trained trumpeter would have a greater opportunity to practice his instrument and continue to perform in his free time.

 

“I’m a police officer and I’m very proud of what I do, and I’m good at it, but it is not my identity,” Blume said. “My identity is as a musician. That’s what I am.”

 

Blume has now experienced a highlight that he has worked long and hard to achieve. On Monday, his debut CD, “My Classical Passion,” was released, a collection of 27 tracks consisting mainly of classical pieces but with jazz and other influences. He arranged, performed and produced the recording. It is a culmination of three years in the studio and a lifetime dedicated to music since he discovered the trumpet as a child.

CD Booklet

 

While the CD features selections from Mozart, Bach and Handel, he also chose music that is ordinarily not part of the typical classical trumpet repertoire. The tracks include slightly more obscure pieces that should please classical music aficionados but offers something for almost any listener. There are a couple of polkas and a selection from Louis Armstrong as well.

 

“On every track there’s something different,” Blume said. “I try to keep that listener interested. There’s jazz, there’s influences of other things. There’s even later stuff on there. It’s my classical passion and how I interpreted it.”

 

He was accompanied by pianist Svetlana Gorokhovich, another local resident, with Jeannette Spoor providing the vocals.

 

Spending his own money on the production, Blume recorded at Sweatshop Studios in Katonah and had it re-mixed and mastered by Joe Costable at other Westchester studios. With that assistance, he was able to perfect the recordings, but Blume said everything heard on the CD is how it sounded in the studio, something that is often lost in many popular music recordings.

 

He also didn’t want to rush the project, and spent the extra time and money to make the CD the best he possibly could.

 

“Most of the music today is about entertainment,” Blume said. “I’m not an entertainer, I’m an artist. I’m hoping that I’m exciting in my craft as opposed to boring, but that’s not the point of this. I’m an artist and I really approach my craft in that way. There’s a unique quality about it as opposed to trying to have a shtick or bells and whistles.”

 

Blume, 50, grew up in Thornwood in a household that didn’t have a television because his parents saw it as a distraction. He chose the trumpet when it was time to take an instrument in fourth grade at Holy Rosary School in Hawthorne. His father had played the German zither, and there were many different genres of music played at home.

 

He wanted to take private lessons, and by eighth grade his parents rewarded him with individual instruction through the time he graduated from Stepinac High School.

 

Blume also studied at Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale and began playing in bands when he entered Pace. Between his sophomore and junior years of college, Blume took a year off to study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, where he typically trained from five to eight hours a day with some of the best young musicians from around the globe.

 

Although his parents were highly supportive of him going to Austria, they did not want him to try to make a full-time career out of music. After returning to the United States, he earned his degree and got a job with the Xerox Corp. in Stamford, Conn.

 

“Was I disappointed? Yes, but in hindsight I’m glad because the music industry is very, very hard to support yourself at this point,” Blume said of being discouraged from making music a full-time career. “Back then it might have been easier. It was obviously still hard but not as hard as it is today.”

 

Over the years, he has played with a wide assortment of musicians at various jobs and has taken a strong liking toward jazz. Blume has performed at clubs and social functions and at venues as diverse as the United Nations and the U.S Military Academy. He has played the National Anthem at Rockland Boulders and Hudson Valley Renegades minor league baseball games and has served as a faculty member at the Music Conservatory of Westchester.

 

Blume’s musical influences are as diverse as the places he’s played. In addition to jazz, he loves Dvorak and Copland as well as Sting, Chicago and Bruce Hornsby.

 

When the corporate career didn’t pan out, he sought to serve others. Ultimately, Blume would serve the community he has called home nearly his entire life.

 

“To become a police officer, not only was it an important job in my mindset, I had a feeling I would be able to do my music and I have for 20-some-odd years,” Blume said.

 

“To play at the level that I’m playing at, I need to practice for an hour and a half to two hours every day. That’s a minimum. But you know what, that hour and a half, two hours goes by quickly. I love it. I love to practice.”

 

He has been able to share his passion for music with his children, now 9 and 11 years old. While one motivation for creating the CD was to help give him greater exposure with the hope of snagging better gigs, it was also to leave a legacy to his family.

 

“Part of putting this album out, to be honest with you, was to leave something for my kids,” Blume said. “If I die tomorrow, in 20 years I’m just a distant memory. With this album, they will be able to hear me play and this is something they’ll take into adulthood. They’ll hear my passion and remember.”

 

“My Classical Passion” can be purchased in either hardcopy CD or digital download format by visiting peterjblume.com, or directly via Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

Westchester Magazine: Local Cop Releases Debut Album!

Local Cop Releases Debut Album 5/15/2017

Law-enforcement veteran Peter Blume releases a full-length album this month, inspired by the county he calls home.

Published:

photo by ed morgan photgraphy

For Peter Blume, a 20-year veteran of the Mount Pleasant Police Department, his album, My Classical Passion — on which Blume plays trumpet and trombone and handles much of the arranging and producing — is, at long last, finished. Blume said the record, which is released May 15, was some 40 years in the making.

 

“This was a natural progression for me as an artist. This  (album) really is a Mr. Holland’s Opus for me,” Blume says, in a nod to the 1995 film about a high-school music teacher focused on writing his own composition.

 

Amidst its worldly notes, My Classical Passion is very much a product of Westchester. The album is packed with nods to local figures who helped Blume learn to play as a child and later in life. It was recorded at Sweatshop Studios in Katonah, and the cover shows Blume and his trumpet at Kensico Dam.

 

Blume can often be seen onstage around the county, whether it’s playing the national anthem on his trumpet at Rockland Boulders and Hudson Valley Renegades games or taking the stage at bars, clubs, and area festivals.

 

But much of Blume’s schedule is focused on law enforcement. He says he became a police officer to help people, not harass them, and says he’s “honored to work for such a professional organization” as the Mount Pleasant Police Department.

 

Being a police officer was a factor in Blume’s tackling the album. He knows there’s no guarantee that a police officer returns home after a day of work, so he was focused on leaving behind something meaningful for his children, Emily and Jonathan, should that worst-case scenario ever play out.

 

“If I die tomorrow, in 20 years I would be a distant memory to my kids,” he says. “This is something they can take with them into adulthood. They’ll be able to hear that I had a passion — and that I was fairly damn good at it. They can even hear me breathe.”

 

My Classical Passion can be purchased at Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.

Coming soon—My very 1st Solo Album!

 

So as you may have noticed, there has been very little to no activity updated on my site as of recent years–other than to my Performance Schedule, of course. That is because I have been busy, hard at work on my own very first major solo recording project—soon to be released!PTR200

 

The album will be called “My Classical Passion”, and has really been like a sort of “Mr Holland’s Opus”, if you will—as it has been almost 40 years in the making for me, the last 2.5 of which were extremely focused with intense preparation. It is comprised of pieces that have deeply affected me along the path of my own musical journey of discovery, on which I continue to travel…and hopefully still grow.

 

Rather than selecting to record typical pieces from within the standard Classical Trumpet repertoire, I specifically chose to use pieces that I felt I actually had something unique, new, or at least different to say on them. I will also warn you that my Classical approach is not necessarily conventionally ‘square’. I have been deeply impacted by the many other types of musical styles in which I have also studied and performed throughout my career, and thus they have undoubtedly tainted, or rather influenced, my sound as well. My philosophy is simple—adopted from the great Duke Ellington—that there are really only 2 types of music: Good and bad. My hope is that you will listen to my record with open-minded ears, give my approach a chance…and find it to be in the former of those 2 categories!

 

There are 4 different sonic variations on the album—designed to keep the ear interested and prevent everything from sounding all the same:

 

1)   Trpt & Piano (with maybe some Trumpet &/or Trombone overdubs)

2)   Trumpet, Piano, & Voice

3)   multi-Trumpets unaccompanied (with maybe some Trombone too)

4)   solo Trumpet

 

img_0985I played ALL the horns (trumpets, flugelhorns, cornets, and trombones) on this album, and unless otherwise indicated, I also arranged all the music, and programed all the sound effects. I was honored to have been accompanied by a world-class pianist—Svetlana Gorokhovich, and soprano vocalist Jeanette Spoor.

 

The album was mainly recorded and pre-mixed over the course of year 2015 at Sweatshop Studios in Katonah NY with Shaul Dover, engineer. It was then re-mixed in 2016 at Dirty Canvas/Needle Down Studios in Mt Kisco NY with Joe Costable, sound engineer—with courtesy of Aaron Accetta. I self-recorded all the multi-trumpet unaccompanied tracks, which were then were mixed separately with engineer-Dino Covelli  of Mad Machinery in Ossining NY. The entire project was then mastered in late 2016 at Bimperl Studios in Armonk NY with  Joe Costable, engineer—with courtesy of James ‘Jay’ Fallon.

 

doing some recording with Shaul Dover at Sweatshop Studios

doing some recording with Shaul Dover at Sweatshop Studios

...listening back

…listening back…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you will hear, my intended design of the album was to appeal to a wide variety of listeners: complex and intense enough for the actual Classical aficionado—but still light and listener-friendly enough for the majority of ‘regular people’ who probably have much other preferred tastes in music. My goal was to make an album that ANYONE and EVERYONE could enjoy and will want to keep in their frequent listening queue…and not be just a onetime pass through. And the music itself is actually healthy for you; it’s intellectually stimulating—audible ‘brain food’ to fuel your mind and to nourish your soul—not merely just typically dumbed-down mindless ‘entertainment’.

 

I am extremely proud of this album—I went first class all the way on it and spared no expense! With 70+ minutes of music, I think you will find that there is plenty on it for you to musically “digest”. Symbolically from the sun-up of Gottfried Reiche’s Abblasen until the sun-down of Leroy Anderson’s Lullaby, my mind is always busy working on my music. I hope you will enjoy this brief glimpse into My Classical Passion.

–PjB

 

 

Shaul, Jeanette, PjB, & Svetlana in the control room of Sweatshop Studios

 

 

BELOW ARE WHAT SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT MY NEW ALBUM!

KNOW YOU BY HEART – on the trumpet; a Smooth Jazz ballad by Dave Koz

DaveKoz-atthemovies-1024x912

Dave Koz is a well-respected saxophonist who has been a monumental force in the Smooth Jazz world for many years. He has composed & recorded a multitude of notable & recognizable melodies—such as ‘Faces of the Heart’, which was once used as a theme to the TV soap opera ‘General Hospital’. Other pieces of his worth mentioning include ‘You Make Me Smile’, ‘Castle of Dreams’, ‘Emily’, ‘Beneath the Moonlit Sky’, ‘Together Again’, ‘Love is on the Way’, etc. However, this one may very well be my favorite.

 

I recently self-recorded this beautiful ballad, with the assistance of a very nice backing track (as provided by the ‘Saxophone Community.com’). It is another Dave Koz composition, to which I spun my own interpretation on. I start out on Flugelhorn & then switch to Trumpet for a build effect into the climax & higher notes. I also ‘peppered in’ a 2nd part (harmony) throughout the piece—a 2nd Flugelhorn.

 

Just in time for Wedding season 2015, here is my latest slide-video.

I hope you enjoy my version of ‘Know You By Heart‘, & the collage-storyboard that I came up with to support it.

 


Direct link to video on Youtube

 

The audio portion only of this slide-video (& of course discounting the backing track or use of Dave Koz’s melody) is copyrighted © by Peter J Blume, 4/2015.

 

Thanks for listening!–PjB

 

My performance here is dedicated in memoriam to 3 great trumpeters who have already passed early this 2015: Clark Terry, Lew Soloff & Rolf Smedvig.

 

 

Clark Terry was one of the original pioneers in American Jazz—specifically within Swing & Bebop. He played with EVERYBODY, including Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Oscar Peterson, Doc Severinsen & the Tonight Show Band, etc. Durclarkterry300ing his 70+ years career, he appeared on over 900 recordings, & also mentored many younger musicians, including Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Dianne Reeves, & Wynton Marsalis…among thousands of others. Although his sound on both the trumpet & the rounder-toned flugelhorn (which he helped to popularize as a jazz instrument) was highly personal & easily identifiable, his incredible versatility allowed him to fit it snugly into a wide range of musical contexts. He died on February 21st at the age of 94.

 

*Interesting to note; Mr Terry had served our Country during WWII by enlisting in the Navy in 1942, where he played in the US Naval Band while stationed in Chicago. Sadly ironic; at his military honored funeral, the US Navy provided & employed the services of a “fake bugle” (which, at the press of a button, plays digital pre-recorded version of “Taps” through it’s bell). Although I’m sure it was not intended—talk about “a slap in the face” to a man’s life’s work!

 

 

 

 

Bergman_Sonare_0302.tiffLew Soloff is probably best known for his work with the classic rock group ‘Blood Sweat & Tears’. His incredibly acrobatic trumpet feature in their hit ‘Spinning Wheel’ had become an instant signature solo for him. He had joined the group in 1968, (having replaced Randy Brecker) & his trumpet sound was essential to the success of that band—which won a Grammy Award for ‘Album of the Year’. But he left the group after only 5 years—thankful of having experienced life as a sort of rock star, but explaining that there was never enough improvisational freedom. He then went on to do session work for a barrage of A-list artists such as Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Lou Reed, etc. He was the lead trumpeter of both the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band & the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, & he also was a member of the Manhattan Brass Quintet. Prior to BS&T, Lew had played with Maynard Ferguson & Tito Puente, & had performed/recorded with the likes of Gil Evans, Paul Simon, Dizzy Gillespie, etc.

 

Lew died unexpectedly of a heart attack on March 8th. Like Clark Terry, Lew Soloff had also served in the military during a time of war (Vietnam)—as a member of the 42nd Infrantry Division Band (NYC). Because Soloff was of the Jewish faith, the burial was to take place, apparently according to custom, the very next day. Having learned from the huge mistake made for Mr. Terry’s funeral, West Point was quick to do the right thing, &  provided a REAL bugler to perform ‘Taps’ for Mr. Soloff’s military honored burial service.

 

**On a personal note, I myself am currently in the process of recording a Classical Trumpet project–at Sweatshop Studios, in upper Westchester, NY—due out hopefully sometime in 2016. The owner & engineer of that studio (Shaul Dover) was very close friends with Lew, & so I had hoped of the possible opportunity to meet him—which unfortunately did not happen before his untimely death. He was 71 years young.

 

 

 

 

ROLF_Smedivg_04Rolf Smedvig was a Classical trumpet prodigy; his mother had been a violinist with the Seattle Symphony & his father was a music teacher & composer. He first performed as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony at age 13. In 1971 while studying at Tanglewood, Leonard Bernstein chose him to be the trumpet soloist in the world premiere of Bernstein’s “Mass”, composed for the opening of the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. And while studying at Boston University, he became the youngest musician to hold a steady post with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1972—at age 19. In 1979, before the age of 25, he then even won the principal trumpet chair. But less than a year later, he signed with Columbia Artists Management & left the BSO to focus more on solo work, chamber music, conducting…& further developing the brass quintet he had co-founded in 1972—the now legendary “Empire Brass”.

 

In 1970, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas had introduced the brass quintet’s 5 founding members to each other while at Tanglewood. They chose to name the group after NY being the “Empire State”—when 3 of them had been performing together in NYC & began considering themselves an ensemble. Since that time, the legacy & contributions made by Rolf Smedvig & his Empire Brass, have been perhaps as paramount & occurring parallel to those of the infamous (original) Canadian Brass—and maybe even similar to those of the (older) Philadelphia Brass Ensemble days, with Gilbert Johnson. It broke through many musical boundaries, discovered vast new repertoire territories, & laid much of the groundwork for future trumpet/brass players.

 

Smedvig was a trumpet-virtuoso; considered to be one of the world’s finest exponents of the instrument—arguably 2nd only to Maurice Andre, who had once been Rolf’s teacher. He displayed pyrotechnic agility, a distinct & incredibly rich tone quality, & like the great Wynton Marsalis, was a master at Classical improvisation.

 

Rolf died unexpectedly of a heart attack on April 27th, at the young age of 63. He is survived by his 2nd wife & their 4 children. His 1st wife is now re-married to James Taylor, the infamous singer/songwriter.

 

 

 

 

 

Peter records horns onto Nate Flaks new album!

a0028092367_10Nate Flaks & The First Law: She Traveled With Me—

Peter J Blume’s Trumpet & Flugelhorn are on the track entitled “Brother”

 

The connection was made through Nate’s father Jonathan. Since early 2014 Peter has occasionally been performing with ‘Kick Start Charlie’—a 8 piece classic rock cover band (with 3 horns!) based out of Rockland County NY. Other trumpeters also helping the band out have been the very versatile Mike Panella, & Smooth Jazz recording artist Cindy Bradley. Anyway, Jonathan Flaks is the keyboardist for KSC & in July, he approached Peter on behalf of his son, who was looking for a trumpeter to record on a particular section of one of his songs; a tribute to recalling the day his younger sibling was brought into this world.

 

Nate is currently studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, & this is the 2nd studio album for the multi talented singer/songwriter (pianist & guitarist, etc) & his band. It holds 7 songs together with a ‘common thread’-like theme, lyrically poetic in nature, & set to the backdrop of somewhat melancholic but incredibly sensitive & reflective music. It has a folk-y sound, yet somewhat reminiscent to the sounds of Coldplay, Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon…maybe even Bob Dylan.

 

Produced & engineered by the incredibly professional, very capable & easy to work with—Sam Stauff of Port City Recordings—Nate raised almost $5K in donations towards completion of the project via gofundme.com. In August of 2014, Peter met up with Nate & Sam at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry NY (where Sam was in the process of setting up a professional recording studio for the school) to lay down the requested part. Although not initially recorded with the intention of being used as a ‘horn section’, Peter had played the desired line both on Flugelhorn & then on Trumpet (but separately; with the intention to be used individually, either/or) to offer them the option of different sonic timbres—but in the end they chose to use both parts in conjunction with each other—with the trumpet being in unison to the Flugelhorn, but an octave higher.

 

The album was released on December 23rd 2014, & can be heard in its entirety here:

       http://thefirstlaw.bandcamp.com/album/she-traveled-with-me

 

Nate Flaks with his model for the album cover shoot.

Nate Flaks with his model for the album cover shoot.

2014; This Year Past in Jazz Memoriam

On the heals of the several major losses sustained to the Jazz community in 2013—especially the passings of Marian McPartland & George Duke, 2014 saw more big-name losses…again to our pianists: especially the likes of Horace Silver & Joe Sample; as well as the passing of bassist Charlie Hayden & guitarist Ronny Jordan, and of course many others. Since there are so many great articles already out there well-documenting the lives & life-works of these fine aforementioned musicians, I will instead just touch on a few things that personally come to mind for me about them–& of that which drew (& continues to draw) me to their music.

 

Marian McPartland (1918 – 2013)

In addition to beingmcp1 an accomplished & incredibly touch-sensitive Jazz pianist herself (who enjoyed a long & fulfilling lifetime of being exposed directly to many of the founding Jazz greats), Marian was also a recognizable radio voice—as the calm, sweet, gracious & humble host to an NPR broadcast program called ‘Piano Jazz’. For each show, she would feature an invited guest pianist (many times even more notable from genre-backgrounds other than Jazz), & interview them in great detail & musical relevance. She would also recount interesting stories of her own times, when she had met & hung out with many of the Jazz greats. She would then also trade turns with the guest artist at playing on-air impromptu tunes…& finally they would even ‘jam’ on a tune—4 hands & 2 pianos—together! Many of these great shows have been released onto CD for public purchase; my favorite being the one with Bruce Hornsby. Yes, I am admittedly already a very biased Bruce-fan, but interesting to note; about 10 years prior to this interview, Marian had apparently invited Bruce onto the show–& he declined. In the interview, Bruce explained that his reason for this was because he didn’t think he was ready for her yet; he felt that he still needed to work more on his left hand independence. He did so & 10 years later, he accepted her 2nd invitation onto the show. It just goes to show how well respected Marian was, even from the likes of a heavy-hitting musician like Bruce Hornsby.
 

 

George Duke (1946 – 2013)

GeorgeDukeKeytarGeorge was an amazing Jazz-Rock fusion keyboardist who, in addition to his own successful solo career, also played on many other notable artists’ projects as a very versatile session musician. In attempt to draw more ladies to his concerts, George eventually & deliberately tempered his playing & writing styles towards the more melodic & romantic Smooth Jazz repertoire. Probably my favorite thing from George was his frequent collaborations with bassist-great Stanley Clarke. The radio-friendly hit ‘Sweet Baby’ is brilliantly sensitive, & came off the 1st Clarke/Duke Project, as did another R&B based song called ‘Touch & Go’. George also did a lot of work with vocalist-great Al Jarreau (another favorite of mine). Last year, Jarreau released an entire album dedicated in tribute, called, “My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke”.

 

 

Horace Silver (1928 – 2014)

Horace was by all std02d03cfc35cdad733fb0d035468fandards, one of the important pillars & founding fathers of ‘real’ Jazz. His career & contributions are way too extensive to go into any detail here. However, one of the most interesting characteristics of Horace was that he was well known for having been incredibly organized. In a bohemian art-form lifestyle that is often stereotyped as being completely hap-hazard, Horace was considered meticulously structured. Over the years, many of his former band-members have often spoken out respectfully but in great detail during interviews, as to how insistent Horace was regarding how they played his music & how they conducted themselves while under his employment. However, in addition to being an accomplished pianist, innovative composer & longtime bandleader (he was also the co-founder of ‘The Jazz Messengers–with Art Blakey), the fact that he was also a very successful businessman in his craft probably comes as no surprise. He was a devote family man who dodged drugs & averted ever-changing fads. Having studied & played on many of his finely constructed compositions, some of my favorites worth mentioning here are ‘The Preacher’, & ‘Song for My Father’—which is famous for it’s groove also having been used by the band Steely Dan in the opening riff to one of their biggest hits, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number“.

 

 

Joe Sample (1939 – 2014)

Although Joe is best known in the joe-sampleSmooth Jazz / Contemporary Jazz field, his first real musical break came in the 70’s with a Jazz-Funk crossover group called ‘The Jazz Crusaders’ (& then later, just ‘The Crusaders’). Their radio hit ‘Street Life’ featured the distinct vocals of Randy Crawford while Joe tickled the ivories of a Rhodes electric piano. Despite a long & successful career as a solo artist, that classic song may still be remembered as Joe’s signature hit. Joe had a barrage of other great records though—Carmel, Ashes to Ashes, Spellbound, etc to name a few, all come to mind. His Jazz might have been ‘smooth’, but it was never ‘watered down’. His compositions were just the right amount of complexity & yet they were still tastefully melodic. His harmonic approach was sophisticated & yet it was not overdone. And his sound was distinctly that of the Houston Texas Jazz scene. He collaborated with many other Jazz greats: Al Jarreau, Michael Franks, Take 6, & Layla Hathaway, etc.

 

 

 

 

Charlie Haden (1937 – 2014)

I once read somewhere that charlie_hadenKeith Jarrett commented, something to the effect, that there is a misconception in the music world—that there exists a long list of many great bass players; he argued that it is actually quite short & that Haden is at the top of that list. I’m not sure how his own long time & faithful bass player Gary Peacock feels about that statement, but since Keith is on my own short list of favorite piano players, I respect his opinion. I believe the above referenced comment is from the liner notes on ‘Jasmine’—an album that Jarrett & Haden had done in 2010 together; last year, Jarrett released another & final album of their collaboration, entitled ‘Last Dance’. Haden had gained respect as an upright bass player through his long term association with Ornette Coleman’s bands. Through Ornette, Haden would have crossed paths with guitarist Pat Metheny, & so they too collaborated on a monumental recording entitled ‘Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories)’. Through Metheny, Haden would have been introduced to Bruce Hornsby (also on MY short list—heading it, actually), & so there had been some great collaborative work there as well (Haden’s family album ‘Rambling Boy’, 2008). Although not necessarily affiliated with any particular religion, Haden was deeply spiritual through his bass playing.

 

 

Ronny Jordan (1962 – 2014)

I honestly don’t know much abo49f90fbdf8b18726b64507d437339ac8ut Ronny. He was a guitarist from England & was part of the whole Acid-Jazz movement—which was a splinter-faction from Contemporary Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Chill music, etc. I really only got to know some of his music via the old CD101.9 FM radio station (from the NY City area) back in the 80’s & 90’s. My favorite tunes from him are: ‘After Hours’ (which has a sound very reminiscent to that of Norman Brown &/or Zachary Breaux, although I’m not sure exactly who actually came first) & ‘Tinsel Town’ (which has an infectious groove & catchy melody). For whatever reason, he was taken from this world too soon, but my life is definitely better for having heard his music. I plan to keep those 2 aforementioned songs with me in my playlist throughout the rest of my life.

 

 

 

I hope that my brief mentions here of these great artists may encourage you to check out more of their life-works. May they RIP.

–PjB 2015  

 

Marion McPartland with the late & great Oscar Peterson

Marion McPartland with the late & great Oscar Peterson

Polka Dots & Moonbeams – A tribute to Jimmy Hill, saxophone

big1I had heard the tune before; but never played like that. He stood up on the small stage—all by himself, closed his eyes, & proceeded to blow softly through his horn. His tone was airy & his thoughts flowed out nimbly through his fingers; effortlessly & articulately. The lack of any accompaniment wasn’t even missed. And the sparse audience of maybe 20 people or so—1 in particular for sure—was completely mesmerized.

 

Jimmy Hill was an old-time sax player. With a lack of any real formal music education, he couldn’t read notes, but his improvising skills were impeccable—crafted through years of intense listening & on-the-job work experience. He was a friend & colleague of my trumpet teacher, Bob Arthurs, who once remarked to me that he had never heard Jimmy make a mistake. Bob is a stickler too—with an incredible ear for the fine details of the craft of Jazz Improvisation—so I believe him.

 

Jimmy used to gig steady with Etta Jones, a popular jazz singer. And yet while he lived in the area, he used to come into the Westchester Conservatory once in awhile to sit in with & offer his coaching skills to the Jazz students there. He was a gentle soul who had nothing but nice things to say about anybody & their playing. That was the way he offered his constructive criticism—more like constructive encouragement.

 


Direct link to video on Youtube

 

The Conservatory, while at its former location on Soundview Ave (in White Plains NY), used to hold a Jazz-Wednesdays jam session in its small auditorium—thanks again to Bob Arthurs, the Dean of Students at the time. Every session would first feature a different working-Jazz Artist, before opening it up to the actual jam session; this way it still connected the jam to actual Jazz education & performance improvement. It was during one of these Jazz Wednesday evenings that I heard Jimmy open up with ‘Polka dots & Moonbeams.’

 

He had made several CD recordings before he passed back in 2004—I have them; all are great & showcase his incredible talent, but none included this song. I wish he had. Even after 20 years, his simple performance of it remains etched in my mind—one of those significant moments in my own musical journey of discovery. After that, I started playing it solo myself—trying to capture the same sense of ‘feel’ he had achieved on it.

 

On another, but similar, note:

 

For oSBRU_VinnieGver the past 20 years, I’m blest to have been a part of a fine working dance band called ‘the Spitzbuam’. During the 1st 3 years of my tenure, I was fortunate to have worked with another great & influential sax player to me, Vinnie Gugleotti. Also an Old-School ‘cat’—Vinnie was incredibly tough on me; maybe at first he didn’t even like me. But there is no doubt that because of him, my musicality grew compounded-ly by leaps-&-bounds. Unfortunately, he too has passed (in 1996), but I still remember how he used to begin his solo every time we played the Elvis tune ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. In his honor, I have borrowed the opening phrase of my solo here from the way Vinnie used to play on it. Because of it, I think the 2 pieces—although completely different in genre styles—work incredibly well together.

 

I hope you enjoy this unique combination-tribute to the influences that sax-players Jimmy Hill & Vinnie Gugleotti have had on my own music development.

 

 

Jimmy Hill (1928 in Tuckahoe, NY – June 9th, 2004)

Vincent Gugleotti (July 3rd, 1937 – September 26th, 1996)

 

 

DISCLAIMER:

By no means should any inference be made of my actual political sway—from the inclusion here of First Lady Michelle Obama’s photo. I’m sure that President Barrack Obama is a very nice guy who is trying his hardest at what HE THINKS is best for our country; after all, he also has 2 children that he is trying to make America ‘better’ for. But I honestly do not subscribe to or agree with Obama politics, AT ALL.

 

Rather, I just think that Mrs. Obama is a very beautiful woman who looks absolutely stunning in polka dots, & whose radiant smile in this particular photo completely emits the warm glow of a moonbeam. Regardless of our blatant political differences, how could I NOT include here this beautiful photo of her?

 

———————————————————————————————————–

 

The audio recording portion (only) of this video is copyrighted by Peter J Blume, © 2014. It was arranged & performed by solo trumpeter Peter J Blume.

 

Although not the 1st take, it WAS done all in 1 take—without any overdubs or punched-in corrections. There are also no electronic enhancements—other than some straight reverb that was used directly at the time of the recording. Hence, my recording here is obviously far from perfect & there are some spots that are definitely not articulated as clearly as I would have liked. But the trade-off value is that I felt something in its authenticity would have been lost if I started poking myself back in to try & clean things up; & thus to me the benefits of just leaving whatever is there in the original take far outweighs the alternative.

Just like Jimmy & Vinnie would have, I recorded this ‘Old-School’.

 

Thanks for listening & hope you enjoyed…

 

-peterjblume.com

The Future of Today’s LIVE Music: which way is it heading?

Trust me, it is very easy for the pessimist in me to rear its ugly head & get real negative on this particular subject. But every once in awhile, something positive comes along, pleasantly surprises you, & restores your faith.  So it really does all depend on how you look at it: is the proverbial glass really ‘half-empty’…or is it possible that those few remaining drops can somehow give you enough optimistic strength to believe that that there is still a chance—for LIVE Music to survive?

 

Dancing with the Stars vs. Brian Culbertson

 

First, the Negative: Dancing With the Stars

Back in February 2014, at the beginning of it’s 18th Season, the ABC-based TV show ‘Dancing With the Stars’ announced that it would be letting go its Music Director, Harold Wheeler, along with its entire 28 piece LIVE Orchestra.  In a press release, it thanked Mr. Wheeler for the services of his incredible talent & capabilities—stating that he & his orchestra had done a fine job over the past 17 years—but that the show was now changing its direction & would be using more (pre)recorded accompaniment music…but that it would still retain the services of a now much smaller combo band.

 

As would be anticipated, this announcement created an up-roar within the music industry & community, its public supporters, & of course with the American Federation of Musicians (AFM—the national musicians’ union).  Here was my own take on it:

 

“I don’t know if it’ll actually kill the show or its audience (as some now-hopefuls are predicting), but it definitely lowers the overall ‘class’ of the show. I think that the novelty of the show’s premise itself is already on the back side (down-slope) of its ‘life-curve’, so I’m sure the obvious ‘corner cutting’ here is mainly an effort to reduce costs—in order to offset the diminishing TV viewer ratings–& thus its also diminishing advertising revenues. But I’m certain that they are also attempting to prolong the show’s chance of staying on TV, by now trying to appeal to a younger viewing audience—a demographic group which is already used to being force-fed ‘pretend’ music on a regular basis—so much so, that not only can’t they distinguish what is REAL & LIVE MUSIC [vs. that which is (pre)recorded], but worse; they really may not even CARE anymore! ‘Ignorance is Bliss’–& at this point, they might actually even prefer the ‘canned’ music. Further, TODAY’S YOUTH (as compared to the youths of generations past) really DON’T DANCE anymore. So this move by DWtS is probably only a even fraction of what they REALLY wanted to do—which is to use ALL (pre)recorded music & have NO BAND at all anymore—but how class-LESS would that have looked (& SOUNDED)?? Please realize then that the small combo band which is now replacing the multi-talented Harold Wheeler & his orchestra—is really only there for VISUALLY ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ (no matter how talented THEY might also be).  But instead of stooping to the (all-be-it stereo-typically) dismal quality-level of the today’s karaoke-at-best style of music, how cool would it have been for ABC hold firm to the standard & tradition of REAL LIVE MUSIC to accompany their dancing program, & rather CHALLENGE (& DEMAND) it’s now younger targeted audience to elevate the CLASS of what they’re actually LISTENING (& maybe even DANCING!) to.

 

‘Money’ is not the only ‘measure of value’, but its power still affects all the other ones—as it is often the one with the ‘last say’. Then they just pull the old advertising gimmick & focus all their efforts on convincing you that ‘less is better’ for you anyway.–peterjblume.com“

 

(In the show’s defense, they did at least start out with & retain a full high quality LIVE orchestra for the 1st 17 seasons…)

 

 

Now, the Positive: Brian Culbertson

 

Around the same time, another musical story broke—even if on a much smaller hyped level; veteran Smooth Jazz Artist – Brian Culbertson (piano, keyboards, & trombone) announced that in celebration of the 20th anniversary of his very 1st album release (called ‘Long Night Out’), he was going to be revisiting it—in its entirety—in order to re-make it the way he had always intended—with real LIVE musicians!

 

Back in 1994, Brian Culbertson had recorded ‘Long Night Out’ in his dorm room while he was a still a student at DePaul University. Because he didn’t have a lot of money to work with but knew how to use the latest technology, he played whatever instruments he could himself & then added synthetic (virtual, computer-generated) instrument sounds for the rest (synth drums, synth bass, etc). From that ‘little’ album, he got signed to a VERY nice record deal…& has had an illustrious career ever since! Over the past 12 albums he’s released since that time, he has remained strong to his musical integrity—he has continued to mature musically, he has developed for himself a much respected reputation, etc…& as his success grew, so has his recording budget—thus he has been able to play with & use some of the best ‘old school’-minded LIVE musicians in the business—who now actually seek HIM out.

 Anyway, the ‘new’ album (called ‘Another Long Night Out’) was just released earlier this month, & as promised, Brian used a barrage of ALL LIVE & VERY REPUTABLE musicians.  He didn’t have to, but he WANTED to…to go back & do it RIGHT. He also went the extra (& more costly) step to self-produce the album, in order to make sure that ALL creative decisions were retained for himself….& as much as the original version of the album itself was tasty & palatable (& thus also $uccessful), its re-make & re-release (in its entirety!) is really on a totally different, definitely much more sophisticated, elevated & very special, level!!! And it just goes to show what REAL musicians can do….it really makes a difference. And this remake of the SAME MATERIAL, just 20 years later, may also reveal something else: that consumer-musical tastes might NOT actually change as much or as quickly as the business part of ‘the music industry’ would like us to believe…!! BTW, the new album—immediately went to the #1 slot on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts!

 

I just bought the new CD myself & trust me, it really kicks!—like the music in the tradition of that particular genre did back in its heyday during the 80’s!  (Pfft!–EVERYTHING IN THE 80’s was better, right?!…well, mostly…) But maybe I’m biased; SOOO many of my musician-idols in that genre are on this new thing (for a complete personnel listing, see below). Some of you listeners may not necessarily find the CD to be your style of music, but I’m certain that regardless, you will still appreciate its incredible musicality & the way it was made.

 

Instead of ‘Dancing With the Karaoke Machine’, why not treat yourself to ‘Another Long Night Out’? Like me—even if for only a brief moment—you might just find that this particular ‘glass’, is actually SOMETIMES still ‘half-full’.

 

—Peter J Blume 4/2014

 

The A-list of Personnel Brian used on his new album re-make:

 

Russ Freeman (Rippingtons) – guitar

Eric Marienthal (Chick Corea Elektric Band, solo and others) – sax

Chuck Loeb (Fourplay and solo) – guitar

Candy Dulfer (solo & Prince) – alto sax

Steve Lukather (Toto) – guitar

Paul Jackson, Jr. (Tonight Show with Jay Leno and countless records) – guitar

Will Kennedy (Yellowjackets) – drums

Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets, Bruce Hornsby and others) – bass

Nathan East (Fourplay, Toto, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and others) – bass

Ricky Lawson (Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Yellowjackets and others) – drums

Michael Thompson (David Foster, Celine Dion and others) – guitar

Lenny Castro (percussionist for like, everyone) – percussion

Michael Bland (Prince and the New Power Generation) – drums

Michael “Patches” Stewart (Al Jarreau, Marcus Miller and others) – trumpet

Ricky Peterson (David Sanborn) – Hammond B3 organ

Rick Braun (solo artist) – flugelhorn

Ray Parker Jr. (solo artist) – guitar

David Benoit (piano solo artist) – arrangements for a 33-piece orchestra

Peter records horns onto AMERICAN AUTHORS new album!

American Authors: Oh What A Life –

Peter J Blume’s trumpets are on the title track of this debut-album!

 

As you may or may not know, last summer I was hired by a certain high-end recording studio to go in & do some session work on 2 songs for a client of theirs. At the time, I didn’t even know who the artist was that I was adding my horns to—no surprise there, as I really don’t listen to much of “today’s music”. But as it turns out, the band is called the “American Authors” (formed while at Berklee College of Music, now based out of Brooklyn, signed to Mercury Records) & they are a current Indie-Rock/Pop band that apparently has already had several hits on the radio: their biggest one probably being “Best Day of My Life”–which was used on TV during the last MLB World Series, this past Winter Olympics in Sochi, etc…& Lowes Home Improvement Centers also picked up the song for use in their commercials.

 

Anyway, several months ago I received word from executive-producer Aaron Accetta that my horns were going to be included onto 1 (of the 2) songs, that is going on the album—which just got released earlier this month! The album is called “Oh What a Life”–& I am on the title track. Again, I can’t emphasize to you how much I really don’t like much of today’s music…but I can honestly say that the music on this album, & especially the song I am on (Oh What a Life), is extremely well done & REALLY kicks! Congratulations & much success to Aaron Accetta, his co-producer Shep Goodman, their entire team,  & of course, the guys in the band.

 

As this is apparently the band’s 1st actual full length-CD album, ALL of their previous hits are also included on it. So in case anyone is interested, the album (or individual songs) is available on all the major download sites: Amazon, i-Tunes, etc…as well as in CD form.

 

Anyway, thanks for listening!
-Peter j Blume, 3/2014
P.S. About the other song that I did NOT make it onto: the song is called “Trouble”. As what may typically happen in the music ‘business’, I came up with an arrangement for it (2 trpts, 2 flugelhorns & 1 trb) , recorded it…& then the powers-at-be changed their minds & the direction they wanted for the song, so they went with a fiddle & a banjo instead. I may know music, but they certainly know more of what’s current! And I take comfort in the fact that at least I lost out to still REAL instruments (& not just some electronic sounding B.S.)!

 

 

For a sample of the horn arrangement I had done on ‘Trouble’, please visit the SOUND CLIPS section of MY MUSIC tab on my website. With a little guidance from Aaron, I then had come up a theme for my horns—kinda like in the vein of the music you hear in all the old-time ‘Spaghetti Western’ cowboy movies (Aaron Copland, Elmer Bernstein, etc)…but with a little ska or dixie-flavored dirge on the bone in the bridge! I wrote the arrangement (for 2 trpts, 2 flugels & 1 trb), played & recorded all the horns over an mp3 of the master-track (which I self-recorded at my own house), mixed it all down as best I could (it’s just a demo) & got it back to the studio within the deadline of only a few days.

 

To really hear the full panning effect of what I intended, try listening to it in headphones.

 

Thanks again for listening & for your interest!- PjB

Fire of the Latin Trumpet: my take on ‘Tico Tico no Fuba’

My 1st real exposure to the song ‘Tico Tico’ came when I was a very young boy, & I would listen to my father occasionally play it on his German-Bavarian zither in the evenings at home. It stuck out to me because it sounded very different from the more traditional stuff (which I also liked) that he would usually play—it had more bounce in its rhythm & a catchier melody.  My next exposure to it a few years later though enlightened me as to where & how this song could be taken much further—it was on a record that my parents had brought home after having met world-class accordion-champion, Mario Tacca, through my Uncle Dieter (also an accordionist).  By that time, I was already starting to take up the trumpet, so I borrowed the sheet music from my Dad & began learning the song. At that time, I didn’t comprehend the need for transposing, so I learned it in the key expressly as written—A (harmonic) minor.  As time went on & my musical / trumpet skills progressed, I began to experiment & embellish on the melody & its harmonic structure.

 

Around that same time I had also heard my very 1st Canadian Brass record—which featured trumpeter Ronald Romm on the song ‘La Virgen de la Macarena’. From its title, it was obviously very Latin in flavor, & also very acrobatic! I was mesmerized by this song too & was able to somehow get my hands on the sheet music for it, & so I started learning that one as well. At some point, I started putting the 2 pieces together—I really liked using the opening fanfare of La Virgen de la Macarena as a prequel to Tico Tico—hence the arrangement here, using 3 octaves! On some level, it kinda reminds me of the structure to Louis Armstrong’s ‘West End Blues’—although by no means am I holding myself up anywhere’s near to his high regard. But I am still convinced that it was a good & interesting idea.

 


Direct link to video on Youtube

 

‘La Virgen de la Macarena” is attributed to having been written (or at least ‘perfected’) by Rafael Mendez, an amazing trumpeter / solo-virtuoso from Mexico who lived & became famous during the early-to-mid 1900’s. Tico Tico (No Fuba) was written in 1917 by Brazilian composer, Zequinha de Abreu. Its title roughly translates to “Sparrows in the Cornmeal” & is usually set to a Samba rhythm; for my own solo trumpet version, I took it out of that context & played it more ad-lib.  Although not the 1st take, it WAS done all in 1 take—without any overdubs or punched-in corrections. There are also no electronic enhancements—other than some straight reverb that was used directly at the time of the recording. Hence, my recording here is obviously far from perfect & there are some spots that are definitely not articulated as clearly as I would have liked. But the trade-off value is that I felt something in its authenticity would have been lost if I started poking myself back in to try & clean things up; & thus to me the benefits of just leaving whatever is there in the original take far outweighs the alternative.

 

The audio recording portion (only) of this video is copyrighted by Peter J Blume, © 2013.  It was arranged & performed by solo trumpeter Peter J Blume.

 

*Please be advised that despite some of the slides, I do NOT condone the brutal & cruel act of Bullfighting. Please know that no further animals were harmed—at least for the making of MY slide-video. However, its cultural tradition has inspired some great music—as has the notoriously infamous physical beauty of Brazilian Women.

 

For more info, please visit my website at:

http://peterjblume.com/

 

I humbly dedicate my modest performance here to all my Latin-Jazz musician heroes, which include: Arturo Sandoval, Claudio Roditi, Paquito D’Rivera, Michel Camilo, Dave Valentin, Rafael Mendez, etc…as well as to my Father (Fritz Blume), my Uncle Dieter Link, Mario Tacca, & Ronald Romm—with the original Canadian Brass. Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, the Father of Modern Jazz, had also made a recording of Tico Tico; however I will further dedicate something more to him as well at a later time.

 

Thanks for listening…& for your interest.

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