I was born in 1955 not long after TV’s Superman, George Reeves, killed himself, sadly. Coincidence? I think not. Over-punctuated first sentence? Yes.
Growing up in New York City’s East Harlem was a trip. No, I mean literally. I was wildly uncoordinated, leading to being the poster boy for physical awkwardness. Add the glasses and pubescent acne and it’s fair to judge me a social misfit mess. Ah, but there’s always music. I could sing and then parlayed that ability into playing trumpet at the only junior high in NYC to have music as a major subject. That’s right… seven periods a week. The path to NYC’s Music and Art High School was a natural one because who wouldn’t want to be in a school of 2000 other kids as nerdy as yourself, right?
This Puerto Rican boy from El Barrio was blessed enough to earn a scholarship to study with a member of the New York Philharmonic, Jimmy Smith. He got me ready to audition for Juilliard and I got in. I was one of three that made it in that year. Thus was I able to study with another member of the Philharmonic for four more years. He wasn’t just any member of the Philharmonic. He was the Don Corleone of trumpet, William Vacchiano. He was a king maker and spread the wealth all over the country since almost every American orchestra back in the day had one of his students in every orchestra. To this day I’m not quite sure why God took such an interest in me but I’m grateful.
I got to do a LOT of fun stuff on my way to playing for the Minnesota not the least of which was playing lead in Seattle at age 22 and playing for Emerson, Lake & Palmer for most of a summer.
Now, apparently, I think I can write and I’m doing this for fun… with a lot of help.