Trumpets have been a part of our lives for all of our lives. Rosalie’s family all played trumpet, and all very well. Her dad played in a band for most of his life, son Bill played well into adulthood, daughters Kaye and Rosalie played trumpet in the high school band and the Mobridge city band, and son Gene played trumpet and French horn in high school. Then there’s me. I took up the instrument when I was in seventh or eighth grade, a cornet instead of a trumpet, and I wasn’t very good at it. I just didn’t want to practice enough to get better than mediocre. I even quit the high school band at the end of my junior year. I was more into listening to people who played the trumpet than doing it myself. Harry James was the preeminent player in the Thirties and Forties, with a cool style that fit the big bands of that era. But I was also a fan of Bobby Hackett and his fat little trumpet, with his oh so sweet sound when he played with several prominent bands back then, the best-known of which were Glenn Miller and Jackie Gleason. I could always tell it was Bobby when I heard him on the radio, recognizing that fluid, vibratoless sound. But I was also into jazz, especially the progressive jazz of Stan Kenton, who had any number of great trumpet players—Pete Condoli, Conte Condoli, and Maynard Ferguson with his soaring, stratospheric notes. I once owned a Kenton album that featured several members of the band, tracks written solely for the individual. Ferguson had one that I can still hear in my inner ear, a slow beginning that wound up with unbelievable notes so high they almost squealed. I’ve tried to find that track just to listen to it again and see if it went the way I remembered, but it’s nowhere to be found. I was never a big fan of the muted trumpet of Chet Baker, although I could recognize him every time, especially when he also sang in that quiet little voice of his. Only two trumpeters come to mind in the last thirty or forty years—Doc Severinson, with The Johnny Carson Tonight Show, and Chris Botti with his quiet, silky commercial style. A few years ago I dug my old cornet out from under the bed, had it refurbished, and gave it to Mike’s son William, so he could play it in his school band. William will be the trumpet standard bearer for the Travis/Zimmer family. And we wish him luck.
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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.
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