[Dixielandjazz] To: MEG GRAF

Tom Saunders tcornet at webtv.net
Sun Nov 23 13:54:58 PST 2003

When I answered Bill Biffle's request for 
"cornet education" I mentioned two names. I was passing along a hint
that Hackett and Davison gave me years ago.
This seemed to open the door for the
mention of trumpet players that I've never
even heard of. It became a contest between listmates to see which one
could list the most number of trumpet players.
Well done! When I said, "the topic had been well covered", it was a
figure of speech.
What I learned from Wild Bill would be a bit difficult to put into
words. This was not a classroom situation. This was learning from
listening to what he was doing. I first heard him on records when I was
9 years old. It was the fire with which he played that got my attention.
I didn't want his notes, only his great feel. Bill was NOT impressed
with players who tried to copy him note for note. I'll be happy to play
a tune that he was known for, but I never have and never will play it
note for note like he did.
Bill andI played together many many times. He could pick a second part
out of the air. I was learning to do this when he would play the lead.
As he got older the lead chores changed from night to night.
So, I had a chance to play lead and second on most of the tunes. This
opens up your ears, as there was no music to follow. It also wakes up
the clarinet and trombone players when you have two cornets playing 1st
& 2nd.
Learning to play jazz is trial and error. I was very lucky to have the
chance to play along side Bill, Hackett, and others and be able to try
things. Bobby would get so involved in chord structures that one would
wonder how he was going to save himself. Once he turned to me and said,
"I wasn't sure I was going to get out of that myself". He always did.
I don't know if any of this will help you become a better player, as I
don't know how good you are now. Listen and don't be afraid to try
things. You'll know what works and what doesn't.
Have fun,
Tom Saunders

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