Friday, October 28, 2005

They Don't Give A Damn About Any Trumpet Playin' Band

The band at Dirty Jack’s in 1976 had a horn section, the first I’d ever worked with. I had never been one of those rock ‘n roll bigots who sniffed at horn sections, but brass did not fit into my Led Zeppelin-to-Waylon Jennings musical worldview. I thought the bands Chicago and Earth Wind and Fire sounded cool, in a Playboy Club sort of way. Well, I had never been within a thousand miles of a Playboy Club, but I imagined their bands had horns.

Sean played trumpet. He was way before his time because he grew that little clump of whiskers right below his lower lip that is now popularly worn by most musicians and is known as a soul patch. I think he adopted it from Doc Severinson. Even I have one now. Sean was very dedicated to his craft, practicing a lot more than any of the other musicians in the band. I could often hear him working his scales in a room upstairs over the lobby of the theater.

Sean was a music student at the University of Idaho. He must have been a person of exceptional patience and rectitude because he had previously owned an Austin Mini, a temperamental beast that was fun until it blew up. He drove to Jackson Hole in an old Mustang that had worn syncros in second gear, producing a hearty crunch when shifted.

Tom Dunham was a school teacher in Jackson Hole who hired on for the summer to play trombone in Dirty Jack’s band. He had studied under the great jazz bandleader Stan Kenton at North Texas State University in Denton, TX. Tom Dunham could bring it, and he was funny. The other trombone player was a young guy named Coover. What I remember about him is his father.

Coover’s dad came to Jackson Hole to visit his son, and he brought his new bride. That is memorable because Coover’s dad looked like a pretty successful middle aged guy who had traded his old wife in for a sportier model. Coover’s step-mom, whom he seemed mildly embarrassed by, was a classic aging party girl, with the bleached blond hair and the spandex attire. Her lips were too red and her laugh was too loud, but ya know what? I liked her, and after conferring about this the band decided it was “cool.”

That summer I caught an addiction for Maynard Ferguson's music, who, incidentally, had been a protégé of Stan Kenton and Tom Dunham. The horn players and I sometimes jammed on riffs from his great, high-powered tune “Chameleon.” I loved the sound of that.

At the end of each show, when the band was really blasting on some of our Dixieland outro music, Doc Holt would sometimes pull another trombone from behind his piano, so we had three ass-kickin’ ‘bones, a screaming trumpet, me on blues harp, Tim on guitar, and bass and drums in back. We kicked out a high energy jazz sound that was loud and riveting. It was some of the most satisfying music I ever made.