There are three that jump to mind for various reasons. One is purely ego based the other two are grounded in connection.
Patrick Williams invited me out to his ranch in Brentwood. I’d followed and studied his music for years and I was very nervous about meeting him in person, particularly on such an individual level.
His daughter walked me back to his studio where he was sitting at a drafting table surrounded by his Grammys, achievement awards, and pictures of him with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jerry Goldsmith, and many more.
He asked me to tell him a little about myself so I started detailing some of the things I’d done. He quickly waved me off and said, “No, that’s okay. I looked you up.” Scarier words I’d never heard in my life. What did you find? Should I just leave now??
Then he finished by saying “You’re a solid writer. Grab a sofa.” To say I felt good about that is an understatement. I didn’t need a seat on the plane to float home from LA.
CONNECTION 1 - CHILDREN OF MOORE
I’ve mentioned here before that “Children of Moore” is one of the most personal pieces I’ve ever written. It was written to express my emotional reaction as a parent to the children who perished in the tornadoes that struck Moore, OK years ago. Long story short the piece was played by the University of Oklahoma Trombone Studio for an audience which included many families from Moore. The emails I received from those parents and families with thanks and describing what my music meant to them brought me to tears all over again. The power of music is amazing. To be able to express my personal grief through music and have it move the very people thousands of miles away was very, very powerful.
CONNECTION 2 - WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
Several years ago I lost one of my best friends to cancer. We met backing up the Temptations. He was in every ensemble I led for over 30 years. His wife called me and said Kimon wanted to have a trombone choir play for his funeral and would I help organize one. As she and I talked she also asked me to write something in remembrance. As we talked we both agreed that the phrase that summed up Kimon’s ebullient personality and gigantic heart was “What A Wonderful World”.
I wrote the piece making sure the last “What a Wonderful World” lyric was in the bass trombones (Kimon’s instrument). I received many compliments and repeat thanks over the years from his family.
We played it in my Big Bone Band concerts as the penultimate number. One of my trombonists made the comment adamantly that we needed to perform that song “at every single concert this band ever does”.
Sadly the person who said that passed away also from cancer at the young age of 55 a few years after that. He requested that his family play a recording of my setting at his funeral as well.
I am humbled beyond words thinking that music I’ve written has touched people.
Thanks for your kind patience in reading my ramblings.