Wayne Bergeron – Trumpet Interview
Welcome to the show notes for Episode #18 of The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast. This episode features trumpeter Wayne Bergeron.
Listen to or download the episode below:
About Wayne Bergeron
Wayne Bergeron is enjoying a career as one of the most active players in the world. With studio dates, International touring, jazz concerts, guest soloist appearances and clinics, he has no intention of slowing down. Born in 1958 in Hartford, Connecticut, Bergeron grew up in Southern California where he started on French horn before switching to trumpet in the 7th grade. Although a difficult instrument to play, Bergeron took to the trumpet quickly. “I found I had natural ability for playing the trumpet in the upper register at an early age.” Bergeron credits his junior high school band director and first trumpet teacher, Ron Savitt, for molding his natural abilities into practical working skills.
In 1986, Bergeron landed the lead trumpet position with the Maynard Ferguson Band. He can be heard on such MF recordings as “Body & Soul,” “Big Bop Nouveau,” “Brass Attitude” and “The One & Only Maynard Ferguson.” Remarking on the talented trumpet player, Maynard Ferguson had this to say during a radio interview: “Wayne is the most musical lead trumpet player I’ve ever had on my band.”
As a sideman, Bergeron’s list of CD credits reads like a who’s who in contemporary jazz and pop, running the stylistic gamut from Ray Charles to Green Day. Other stellar names include Beyoncé, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Seal, Diana Krall, Tito Puente, Christina Aguilera, Dianne Reeves, Barry Manilow, Michael Bolton, Gwen Stefani, Earth Wind & Fire, The Pussy Cat Dolls, My Chemical Romance, The Mars Volta, INXS, Chicago, Rosemary Cloony, Diane Schuur, Barry Manilow, Lee Ann Womack, Lou Rawls, Eric Marienthal, Kenny G., Brian Culbertson and David Benoit.
Bergeron has worked on 300 plus TV & motion picture soundtracks. A partial list of film credits include Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Charlie St Cloud, 2012, Percy Jackson, Cats & Dogs, Surrogates, The informant, G-force, Star Trek, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, High School Musical 1 & 3, Race to Witch Mountain, National Treasure 1 & 2, Bedtime Stories, Pink Panther 2, Marley & Me, Role Models, The Mummy 3, Get Smart, Enchanted, Hancock, Horton Hears a Who, Semi Pro, Superman Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean 1,2&3, Ratatouille, The Simpson’s Movie, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Ice Age 2, Spiderman 1 & 2, Fantastic Four 1 & 2, Team America, Anchorman, Catch Me if You Can, South Park, Flubber and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Wayne’s featured trumpet solos can be heard on the motion pictures Duplicity, Rocky Balboa, The Incredibles, Leather Heads, Princess & the Frog, The Perfect Game, High Crimes, Rounders, Fled, Hey Arnold (the movie), The Life Aquatic, The Rat Pack, Child Star, Illegal Tender, Aladdin King of Thieves, Foolproof, and Two Days in the Valley. Numerous TV credits include shows such as NBC, ESPN & TNT sports themes, Entertainment Tonight Theme, Academy Awards, American Idol (2001-02), Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Latin Grammy’s, The Goode Family, Jeopardy, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Phineas & Ferb, Emperor’s New School, Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, Mouse works, Make em Laugh, House of Mouse, King of the Hill, Futurama, Buzz Lightyear, Hercules and Hey Arnold.
After being behind the scene for so many years, Bergeron stepped out on his own with his first solo effort “You Call This a Living?” This debut project earned him a Grammy nomination in 2004 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble as well as rave reviews from fans and press worldwide. Wayne’s latest recording “Plays Well With Others” was released on the Concord Jazz label in 2007 is being met with the same acclaim.
Bergeron’s passion for big bands has led to his inclusion in some of Los Angeles’ most well respected bands. He has recorded with Quincy Jones, Gordon Goodwin, Arturo Sandoval, Pat Williams, Sammy Nestico, Jack Sheldon, Chris Walden, Tom Kubis, John La Barbara, Andy Martin, Ralph Carmichael, Bob Florence, Frank Capp, Matt Cattingub, Bill Liston, Kim Richmond, Ray Anthony, Buddy Childers, Roger Neumann, Bill Perkins, Bill Elliott, Gary Irwin, Bill Watrous, Bob Curnow and Phil Kelly.
Bergeron is a National Artist for the Yamaha Corporation of America and is co-designer of the YTR-8335LA trumpet and YFH-8315G Flugelhorn. Bergeron enjoys his work as a clinician/educator and feels it’s important to “give back” by mentoring young musicians. He also has a line of Signature Mouthpieces by GR Technologies.
Wayne Bergeron Links
[0:00:00] John Snell: This is The Other Side of the Bell episode 18.
Hello and welcome to The Other Side of the Bell, a podcast dedicated to everything trumpet brought to you by Bob Reeves Brass. This is the podcast to explore the trumpet and take your trumpet playing to the next level. I’m John Snell, trumpet specialist at Bob Reeves Brass. And I’ll be your host for this episode.
Today’s special guest is Wayne Bergeron. Wayne is one of those players who needs no introduction. But by some chance, if you’re not familiar with his name, you’ve certainly heard him on TV, in the movies or on recordings, Wayne spent a good portion of the morning with me and we covered a lot of ground. I’ll get to his interview in just a few moments.
This podcast is brought to you by Bob Reeves Brass. Bob and his staff have been serving the brass community since 1968 helping brass musicians set up their equipment properly so they can make music as easily and effectively as possible. Let us worry about your equipment so you don’t have to. Put your focus where it counts – on the music. If you joined us last episode, you’ll know that we have just recently started carrying Van Laar trumpets and flugelhorns. There are a lot of great instruments being made today, but there is something special about the handcrafted instruments that Hub Van Laar and his craftsmen put together in the Netherlands. We’re excited to offer them and hope you’ll come by the shop and give them a try. If you’re in the market for a new trumpet or a flugelhorn, we have some B-flat trumpets and some flugelhorns in stock, and we’re getting some more instruments hopefully in the near future. Give us a call or an email, or swing by and give them a try.
The other announcement I have today before we get to Wayne – and I’m sure you’re anxious just as I am to hear what he has to say – in September, Bob Reeves, Brett and I, from the shop will be going to Tokyo for a week. We’ll be hosted by Joy Brass over there. I think we get there the 18th of September through the 25th. And if you’re in Tokyo and want to come by and meet us, get valve alignments done, get consultations with Bob or one of us, contact the staff at Joy Brass, we’ll have their information online. This will be our third year going to Tokyo in a row. This year, Bob asked me “Why we don’t go to Hawaii on the way back?” I said, “Well, you’re the boss.” We’re going to go I believe the last three days of our trip, the 26th through the 28th. That’s a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We’ll be setting up shop in Honolulu, Hawaii and we’ll be doing consultations, alignments. We will have some instruments there for you to try if you’d like to try out some Van Laar instruments. Go to Bob Reeves dot com and we’ll have links to where you can find out about our schedule, and how to get a hold of us. And, importantly, if you want to get alignment, it’s a great opportunity not having to send your instrument to the shop and those slots book up fast. So, Bob Reeves dot com. And we’ll have links to the information on how to contact either Joy Brass in Tokyo or you can contact us for our visit in Honolulu. Again, that’s the end of September, we’ll be there. So, if you’re in Tokyo and you want to try out Van Laar, our friends Joy Brass are dealers of Van Laar and they have a huge selection of those instruments so you can try them there.
I tried to get through that as quickly as possible for you. Let’s get right on to my guest Wayne Bergeron.
Wayne Bergeron is without a doubt the most in-demand lead trumpet player and commercial trumpet player in LA today. You can hear him on Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. Other big bands that he plays with or has played with include Tom Kubis, Arturo Sandoval, Patrick Williams and Maynard Ferguson, among many others. You can hear him on over 300 counting movie soundtracks including solo features on movies like Rocky Balboa, The Incredibles, and The Green Hornet on TV. You can hear him nightly playing the theme to Jeopardy when the contestants are struggling during Final Jeopardy. You also hear him on ESPN award shows, the Grammys, all over the place. Family Guy, American Dad, The Simpsons, you name it, on TV. That wasn’t enough – Wayne also released three solo CDs to date, one of which received a coveted Grammy nomination for large group jazz album. And some good news is we can expect a fourth album, a fourth big band album shortly – Wayne said maybe within the next few months. Trust me, you don’t want to miss what Wayne has to say. He spent much of the morning with me, and without further ado, here’s my interview with Wayne Bergeron.
Well, we’re here today with Wayne Bergeron. Wayne, thanks for being here today.
[0:05:15] Wayne Bergeron: Great to be here.
[0:05:16] John Snell: Let’s get started with your early years. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about how you found the trumpet, or the trumpet found you, and your early influences.
[0:05:22] Wayne Bergeron: Yeah, well, most people probably know the story. I actually started on French horn. I was in Drum and Bugle Corps when I was young. The Lynwood Diplomats; really fine organization. We kind of sucked, but my brother was a marching instructor. So I joined the cadet corps and they started me on French horn bugle and to make a long story short, my parents took me out of Catholic school going into seventh grade so I could be in bands, since I showed some interest in music. I got in the band. I was playing French horn and, and they gave me a traditional French horn, of course. I didn’t know what that was. I’d only played the marching French horn with a valve and a rotor, you know, at the time. And so when I saw this other complicated looking thing, I was like, oh my God, what is that thing? I always thought that French Horn players would have a lot more humility if their bells faced forward, like the rest of us. But we can talk about that another time. So I switched French horns and my school was vandalized. We came into the band room one morning, my mom dropped me off at school, and the band room was just trashed. It was graffitied up and all these instruments were smashed, including my French horn. So, they switched me to trumpet. They decided to switch me to trumpet. And now, had I taken my French horn home to practice, it wouldn’t have gotten destroyed. Oops! So it was a good omen, I guess. It’s a good omen. I don’t even have any right-hand technique with my valves. So left-handed, I would have really sucked. So anyway, that’s how I got started on trumpet. My band director in junior high was a really fine trumpet player named Ron Savitt, and his father was Pinky Savitt, and Pinky Savitt played a lot of recording sessions back in the day – he played in the Warner Brothers orchestra when they had studio orchestras. He played second trumpet to Larry Sullivan. So a lot of those Carl Stalling Bugs Bunny cartoons and stuff. His father played the second trumpet on a lot of that stuff and he did other things as well. And Ron, who was my teacher; he taught school, obviously, taught junior high at Hosler Junior High where I was going to school, but he was a fine trumpet player and he did more journeyman kind of work, like he would do the circus when it came to town and he would do the ice show and he did a little bit of recording and he did a lot of casuals and things like that. He knew a lot of tunes. So, he was kind of a good all-around player. He was my first trumpet teacher, and interestingly, I still refer to the things he taught me about music, anyway, more than anything, because he was very instrumental in my development. When I switched to trumpet from the French horn, I had a weird problem. I had kind of natural high chops. My range is the same now as it was when I was 12, I can play the same notes. Hopefully, they sound better now, back then they kind of sounded like somebody putting a cat in a blender, but, you know, you put some reverb on that. It sounds pretty good.
[0:08:16] John Snell: Was there anything specifically that your teacher worked with you on that helped you?
[0:08:22] Wayne Bergeron: Chop-wise and stuff I was pretty good. I was pretty sound as a youngster, but we worked on basic stuff, obviously. He put me in the Clark book and the Arban book. But mainly what we did at lessons, as he used to tell me, the main thing you’re going to need to do if you want to work as a trumpet player is you need to be able to play all styles and need to be able to read music really, really well. And so at our lessons, we read music a lot. So I’d come in and he’d open up the duet books and we’d start going to it. And I studied with him, you know, for a few years into high school, and by the time I was 15 I was reading pretty well. So between him ingraining that into me and my high school band director, Bob Smith, who’s passed away now, unfortunately. He was a really fine trombone player and a really great cat. I miss him but we had jazz band in our curriculum, the seventh period. And every day we read a new chart. He put a new chart in front of us, he’d go “take a look at this, find the problem spots, mark it with your pencil.” You know, if you gotta mark where the beat is, whatever, you can call them some marks or idiot marks, just depending how, you know, if you look at it from the glass being half empty or full. But then we played it down and then we’d get one more shot at it and we’d never see that chart again and then we’d work on whatever we were working on. And so, by the time I was a senior in high school I read pretty well. You know, I had noticed I read better than a lot of kids my age. So when I went to audition for honor bands and stuff, well, the sight reading stuff, I plowed right through it, and when my band did jazz festivals I’d have to, maybe you’d have to sight read something. Between me and a few other guys in the band that read well, we just dragged the rest of the band through. So it’s become very instrumental in what I do for a career now. I do a lot of studio work and things like that. The reading and interpreting quickly skills have been very important to me besides the stylistic diversity things that my teacher was very, very good at.
[0:10:22] John Snell: Now some players that are real gifted naturally when they first pick up the instrument have a hard time developing the discipline to practice. Was that ever an issue with you?
[0:10:34] Wayne Bergeron: Oh, yeah, that was definitely an issue with me. I developed a lot of bad habits, too. You can imagine being able to do something like that when I was 12 years old and I got attention for that when you were that young, and I was really a little tiny squirt too. And so, if you bang out a double high C at the end of something, I was a little kid, I got a lot of attention. That’s probably why I still play. I thought I was hot stuff too, but I developed a lot of bad habits, and I ended up, you know, I used to cut my lip all the time. I was using so much pressure. I mean, I had the air moving right, obviously. So something, the mechanism, the physics part of it was working, but the mechanical part of how to do it with a little less effort I didn’t have. I mean, I crammed the horn into my throat and I had a ton of upper body tension. I herniated my neck. So I have a puffing neck like you’ll see a lot of players or clarinet players or, you know, a lot of many trumpet players; Dizzy Gillespie, I guess the worst case but Maynard Ferguson, Louis Armstrong and hundreds and I think that comes from when at a young age, maybe having some natural ability like all those players did and, and maybe not the proper guidance physically on how to breathe and support correctly. And so you can injure. And I did, and it wasn’t until much later that I started learning about breathing and supporting a little more correctly and you know, reading different literature from Maggio and Bobby Shew and different people that that kind of mastered the physical part of the trumpet. But Bobby Shew is a great example of that because he’s 71 years old now and he’s stronger than he was when he was 35. And he’ll tell you that, and he plays way easier. So this guy knows something. So, you know, listening to advice from people like that very much helped me.
[0:12:17] John Snell: Did you have any other teachers in your development?
[0:12:20] Wayne Bergeron: Other than Ron, he was my main teacher. Ron Savitt was my main teacher. I took some lessons with Boyde Hood. I got into trouble years ago with my teeth. I had some bonding done because I had an abscess in my front tooth and it really messed me up. So I took some lessons with Boyde. Actually, I’d taken some lessons with him before that, too. Just trying to round out my playing. I was trying to become more of a classical-oriented player which never really happened. But you have to have some common sense about what you can do and what you can’t do. I’m a commercial trumpet player but that side of my playing grew a lot from taking lessons with people like Boyde. I took some lessons with Uan Rasey. Just a couple, but Uan became a very good friend of mine. And sometimes you just take a couple of lessons with someone like that and then what they tell you sinks in and it helped. So, that helped me a lot. I took a few lessons with Bobby Shew. These are kind of spread out over different years and I just took a lesson with Michael Sachs from the Cleveland Orchestra a year ago. I went back and I played this Pixar music concert. We played it at the Hollywood Bowl with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra a couple of months before. So they brought me back to play with the Cleveland Orchestra which was really, really cool. And now Michael didn’t play because he had a personal commitment, but he was in town. After the concert the next day, I took a lesson with him and we’re very, very different players but the trumpet you never really learn everything you can learn, so I’m constantly, I’m 56 years old now and I feel like I’m still getting better and I have so much to learn and, and sitting next to somebody like that that can do stuff that I’ll probably never be able to do like him. But getting some direction and listening to somebody play with that kind of sound and the way they connect notes and how they attack a note and how they diminuendo and, and how they bring color into the sound. I mean, I left there like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t wait to go home and practice, you know, and I learned a lot and I have his books and I do some of the things he gave me every day now. So they become part of my arsenal.
[0:14:26] John Snell: What point did you think about becoming a professional musician or were interested in taking trumpet beyond just a high notes in high school kind of thing?
[0:14:34] Wayne Bergeron: Well, it was probably from that point. I mean, I knew the first time that I got attention for playing, that I wanted to do this when I was in high school. I mean, I was that high note lughead guy. I put a double high C on the end of every tune, didn’t really matter what the key was. It didn’t matter what the key was, it was a double high C, but I couldn’t be Brahms or Bach, it didn’t really matter. So I was that guy, but my first gig was with a band, when I was a freshman, there were several seniors that were very good in the band, but I came in from the eighth grade and I played first trumpet in the jazz band my freshman year and the other three guys were all seniors. And then there were several other members in the band that were very good players, a guy named Dave Hill who was a saxophone/woodwind player; Mark Massey, who was a great, still is great, great piano player and he played trombone in the band as well. So he played trombone and piano. Brad Powell was this really great guitar player, writer in the band. And a guy named Frank Sanchez as a bass player. We had a nucleus of good players and they had this band called Synopsis and it was a little top 40 band, you know, that played the popular music of the time, doing Chicago tunes, “Beginnings”, and they had a trumpet player in the band that had left the band. And so they brought me in to play with them and my first gig was at the Lynwood bowling alley playing four sets, you know, for 25 bucks. I was like, damn, I just made 25 bucks, you know. And from that time on, I was like, man, and so I started, we played with that band and we played gigs here and there. And as I went through high school, I ended up getting in this band called “City” from East LA. And at that time, there was a whole bunch of bands in East LA with horns, like horn bands that play Tower of Power stuff, and Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago, and Cold Blood and Malo and all these cool bands from the time. I was very young, I was not even 16 years, so my mom would drive me to the gigs. That kind of spawned into, there was a lot of these East LA bands that I got into, I got into a band called Changing Times. And it was a band called Fast Company, was originally called Reefer Madness, but it was hard to get gigs, so they changed the name of the band to Fast Company. And a matter of fact, the guitar player in that band was a guy named Cesar Rojas who is with Los Lobos. A matter of fact, he left that band because that band was making its rise to stardom. And, and I played in a band called Ace, which was a very popular East LA band. And we played, it was wedding bands, you know, we played weddings every weekend or we played car club dances for the low rider car clubs. But man, that training in pop music for me was incredible. And I met a bunch of great players and so I was working before I was even driving. Other people were working at McDonald’s and I was doing gigs making 35 or 40 or 25 bucks, whatever they paid back then and that was pretty cool for me because, well, I was living with my mom. So you’re not really making your living. But I was making some money playing my horn. And so to answer your question in a in a shorter way: since then is when I knew I wanted to be a professional trumpet player.
[0:17:51] John Snell: So it was early on now. One of one of the reasons I was excited to have you come in – a lot of the players in LA who’ve come through seem to have a similar kind of path. They go to school and then they get picked up by a big band, touring big band and they do that till they end up in Vegas or Reno and then they end up in L A. Actually, before you had a touring big band you had a day job. Isn’t that correct?
[0:18:13] Wayne Bergeron: Yeah. Well, I worked at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft, out of high school because when I got out of high school, I just figured the music business is gonna beat my door down. Well, I was very wrong about that, as most people in youth are. When I was playing, I wasn’t really taking the trumpet that seriously. You’d asked me about practicing earlier and I wasn’t a hard practicer. I didn’t work hard enough in high school at it. I had a natural ability and that will carry you through to a certain extent. If you’re kind of a quick learner, I learn more from hearing things. But as I got older, these bad habits I developed: the neck thing, cut my lip, my fingers didn’t develop very well, I had a lot of breaks in my playing, a lot of holes in my playing, that I’m still correcting to this day, these bad habits from not getting the proper guidance, as great as my teacher was, Ron I mean, and I have the utmost respect for him. We didn’t work on the trumpet that much, you know. He just said, oh, you’re doing it. So I think he didn’t want to give me too much information. You know, you can kind of get paralysis by over-analysis, and you tell somebody they’re doing something wrong and then they can’t do it. And so maybe that was the case but guys like Uan and Boyde Hood, they kind of straightened me out and Bobby Shew on the other problems. So anyway, that brings us to me working as a trumpet player and I think that the training I got from those guys and those East LA bands and mainly from Ron Savitt, the stuff he showed me about music, kept me excited about playing the trumpet and doing it for a living.
[0:19:53] John Snell: So after you had your day gig, was it a thing where you missed the trumpet and decided to give it a shot again?
[0:19:58] Wayne Bergeron: I was still playing, I was doing wedding bands and stuff on the weekend and just doing goofy gigs. I got a call from this guy named Laurie Cole who was a trombone player and he knew somebody that I knew and, and this guy Buddy Miles was putting a horn section together to go on the road and I don’t know if you know who Buddy Miles is, but he’s kind of a one-hit wonder. But he played with Jimi Hendrix in the Band of Gypsys, a great drummer and great guitar player and a total natural talent. So I said, yeah, of course, I want to do that. So we rehearsed a little bit. It was a five-piece horn section and Buddy had just gotten out of prison, he was in prison for drugs or something. So I quit my day job because we’re gonna go on the road to New York. We’re gonna rehearse for three weeks and we’re going on tour and I’m like, you know, this is my, never been on the road before. So I quit this job. I worked there for one year exactly. 365 days to the day. Exactly. I remember that. I take this thing. We rehearse for, we still haven’t seen any money and they keep going “oh, yeah, the payroll is coming, the payroll’s coming”. We go off to New York, we fly to New York. I’ve never been to New York. We land there, we get picked up in limousines. I’m like, dang, how cool is this? You know, and I’m pretty young. I’m in my late teens and we’re getting these limousines and we’re going to our hotel, we’re going to the Chelsea Hotel in New York. And I remember these girls are going, hey, “what band are you guys in?” And I’m hanging my head out the window of a limo cause I’m just a dumb kid going “oh yeah, we stay at the Chelsea Hotel, come on by let’s hang.” So we get to the Chelsea Hotel. Now, that hotel is a very nice place. That whole area of New York has been fixed up real nice. Back then it was the hood and the Chelsea Hotel was a rathole. And a matter of fact, room 101 and Brandon Fields, saxophone player wrote a song about it, he stayed in that room and there was four of us to a room too. But that’s the room that Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols murdered his girlfriend in. So you can imagine the luxury of this place. So that’s my first road experience. So we do several gigs in the New York area. The luxury ended after the limo ride. You know, we do several gigs in clubs. We played the Bottom Line and we played in Rockaway Beach somewhere at a club in Long Island. And we still haven’t seen any money and the road manager going “oh yeah, the payroll is being wired.” And, well, it turns out the tours are completely not successful. They strand us in New York and the management, everybody leaves the hotel and doesn’t pay anything. And back then, you know, now you have to credit cards, but back then I didn’t even have a credit card. So we had to sneak out of the hotel with our luggage, fire escape, literally going down the fire escape like you might see in a movie. Jeff Jorgenson, Brandon Fields and I and Laurie Cole, and we leave this hotel. Now, these girls we’d met in that limo, we ended up hanging out with them and partying with them a little bit and having fun. We didn’t have a place to stay. So we stayed at their apartment for a few nights, you know, before we came home. I had a plane ticket home, fortunately. So that was my first road experience. So I’m going, yeah, maybe I don’t want to do this. I moved back in with my mom and progressing with the career a little bit, the players I met on that band meeting Brandon Fields and Jeff Jorgenson especially. They were at that time two of the greatest musicians I’d ever met, and they still are actually, and I’d never heard anybody play at that level – I wasn’t playing with players at that level. Brandon and I became friends and he got me on some other gigs and and I would hear some of the players he knew that he was working with around town here, Walt Fowler being one of them. And I was going, man, these guys play a lot better than I do, and getting to hear some of these better players made me grow as a player, made me want to practice more. And, you know, it’s funny you can kind of trace your career back to that one pivotal place. And I think for me, it was that being in that band because everything that happened to me after that spawned from those relationships, the people I met that helped me and got me better work even though the tour is a bust. But for me, that was a pivotal point in in my career. And if that wouldn’t have happened, maybe I’d still be working at McDonnell Douglas, or been laid off because like they all did.
[0:24:12] John Snell: So then, so after that, you ended up at Disneyland for a while?
[0:24:16] Wayne Bergeron: Yeah. I took an audition for Christmas work at Disney in the first year. I was there. I didn’t get the gig. It was really weird. I went in, and there was four of us went in at a time, and they had a packet of music and they would say, oh, well, ok, check out the packet. Ok. Now we’re gonna play this fanfare, whatever it was. And I’m on in and I played pretty flawlessly, to pat myself on the back. I remember coming in there and I remember outreading the other three players that were there. They were good players, players I still know, but I played through and I thought for sure I had a gig, I didn’t get hired. And I was like, wow, man, here’s the music business. That kind of sucks. You know, I thought I aced this audition. And the rumor was that somebody said, oh yeah, you know, he’s got good high chops, but he doesn’t really blend and, you know, and maybe that was true. But I mean, for marching down the street at Disneyland for God’s sakes, how much do you need to blend? So I was very frustrated with that and I auditioned the next year and I ended up getting a gig and I played in the band at the Disneyland Christmas parade, which I’m sure you’ve seen. They had fanfare trumpets. Back then they had a fanfare trumpet group, a royal band, a safari band with like nine trombones, a card band of a bunch of different toy soldiers, of course, and I was in the monk band where we dressed like monks. It was fun, you know, it was one of the student bands, though. But from being out there, there was a lot of trumpet players, there was a lot of competition, friendly competition. A lot of people practicing together, playing duets together backstage. So it was a really a learning ground for me. There were so many good trumpet players and maybe I was better than some of them and there were a lot of them way better than me; classical players and great jazz players. And it was just, it was almost better than going to school, because you’re just in this competitive, fun environment. And I think I grew a lot from that as well. Yeah, playing regularly and I ended up, as the years went on, I ended up subbing in the union bands there and I played in a band called Tomorrowland Brass. And I ended up being a member of the Disneyland band at one point, which didn’t last very long. At that point, I had gotten a road gig with Paul Anka and so I was on the road with him and that conflicted greatly with the schedule of Disneyland. So they gave me an ultimatum and I had to quit my job there.
[0:26:31] John Snell: So, Paul Anka, who else did you go with? Was there anybody else you went on tour with?
[0:26:35] Wayne Bergeron: Well, I actually was on tour with Maynard before that actually. So, yeah. So, chronologically I’m out of order here a little bit but, uh,…
[0:26:44] John Snell: Let’s talk about Maynard a little bit because you’ve had a long relationship with him.
[0:26:46] Wayne Bergeron: This Maynard you speak of. I’m not familiar with him.
[0:26:51] John Snell: Maynard Ferguson. What was it like getting a call? I’m sure growing up you were a fan of his.
[0:26:58] Wayne Bergeron: Oh, I was a huge fan of his. I wore those… I played along with the album. That’s another way I was learning to play was I put those albums on, I didn’t have the music. So I learned everything by ear and I’d play along with Give It One and Summer of ’42, I remember I used to really like that a lot and I’d play along with it and you know, in the band room, that’s how I’d be warming up. I’d be playing all that stuff in MacArthur Park, of course, and all of that, I was enamored with it. That and Bill Chase, that music to me, was it for me. And so I became a huge, huge fan of Maynard’s, just like many young trumpet players did. So when I finally got a call to play with him years later, to be honest with you, I’d kind of lost interest. Not in Maynard but with the band, the direction the band was going, you know, things have changed a lot musically. I mean, I liked it, I just didn’t, it wasn’t my favorite thing anymore. But then in 1984 I was on the road with Bobby Womack, which was another short-lived tour I was on the road with, and Alex Iles, a trombone player was in the band at the time and they needed a trumpet player and I couldn’t do it because I was already on the road and I was like, and Bob Wackerman was playing bass on the band at the time. And Chad Wackerman, John Wackerman, excuse me, the whole family plays musical instruments. But they had recommended me. So I had to say no. So I was like, oh, wow, man, I just said no to Maynard Ferguson! How bad does that suck? You know? Well, anyway, they ended up calling me again in 2005, I guess a trumpet player didn’t work out. Somebody’d gotten fired. So, I was able to do it now. So early 2006, January 2006, I joined the band and I still remember the first rehearsal. I’d gotten the, they sent me some tapes to listen to the band and the music so I could check it out before the first rehearsal. And there was one really hard little horn soli on this tune called Central Park. And it was only a five-horn band at this time. Two trumpets, trombone and two saxophone small band. So we were very exposed and I remember listening, so I practiced this soli, man, and I practiced it. I was living in an apartment at the time. So I’d go down to Golden West College and I’d go on the stairwell, like at one o’clock in the morning in the middle of the campus. That’s where I practiced, and I bring my music stand and there was a light in there. I played the thing over and over and I had it memorized and, and I was nailing it, you know, so I got to the first rehearsal and the band’s kind of warming up and we’re hanging out and Maynard is not there. And he walked in, man. And at that moment I went, dang, there’s that guy, man, the guy that played all that stuff and it just hit me because I’ve seen him play at his concert, but [this was the] first time I met him and I was like, and I would just, and, and like I said, maybe I lost interest, but then as soon as I saw him, I was like, wow. And he would just like, you know, he had a shrine around him when I was looking at him, you know, and he came up and he introduced himself and he couldn’t have been nicer, you know. And so we’re playing this tune, this Central Park tune and we get to that horn soli and he stands right in front of the horn section and we play this thing and I’m like, oh, crap, and I play it and I probably played it the best I ever played it, of any time I ever played it, on the road or anything. I mean, it had this little thing. They went, it’s a double high C, B-flat, C and I had all of it and I was like, just all proud of myself, you know, and he stopped the band and he looked at me and he goes, “Wayne. Right. That’s the name. Uh, yeah. Burgerson. What is it?” Bergeron. He goes, “ok, Burgerson. Uh, is that, is that all you got?” And I’m like, oh, wow, man, what does this guy, what does this guy expect for me, man? And then he goes, “I’m just kidding, man. It sounds great, you know. Welcome to the band.” And so at the time I didn’t spend that much time on the road with him, I did six months of that tour and then he went to even a smaller band which was good for me because I was about ready to get off the road. He put a sixtieth birthday big band tour together in 1988. And I put the brass section together for that for him. And I ended up doing one gig, then he went back to a small band. In 1987 he had one gig in Germany that they were still contracted with the five-horn band. So we threw a horn section together and we did a one-nighter in Germany, and then he did a record called Brass Attitude. And I guess right before the session, they’d fired a trumpet player. So I was called in to play on that session and then I didn’t see him for several years. And then they’d asked me to come play on what ended up being his final CD, The One and Only Maynard Ferguson. I was brought in as a guest, four alumni were brought in to augment his current touring band. And so I played on that. So I ended up doing four CDs with Maynard and I was really only in the band for five months and, and, and when you get on those bands, I mean, a lot of guys would get in Woody Herman’s band or Buddy’s band in hopes of getting documented, of getting on a record, and sometimes people will be on there for years. But the second week I was in Maynard’s band, we did Body and Soul and then I ended up on these other ones by the, then the, the sixtieth birthday big band tour, which ended up being the first Big Bop Nouveaurecord. So I ended up on four, being in the band, basically six months. And I end up doing four CDs and unfortunately after that final CD Maynard passed away three weeks after that. And I mean, it was weird because he seemed in really great health. In four months before that, he recorded on my CD Plays Well With Others. This thing called Maynard and Waynardwritten and he was kind enough to record that with me. So it was one of the last things he recorded, you know, those two projects. But anyway, I wouldn’t trade those times, you know, that I couldn’t survive on the money. I mean, you don’t really, you don’t do those things for the money, you do them for the experience. And I think I made on the second tour, I made $500 a week and I was the highest paid person in the band and I was a librarian and I did crew, I would roll up cords and stuff afterward to make the extra money. So I could make as much as I could. The other guys are making $400, I think. So it was work. But to be on the stage with Maynard Ferguson, you know, we do one-nighter after one-nighter and watch him play and learn from him. Well, it’s interesting you watch him in trouble, because like all of us, chops would get in trouble and, and he always miraculously could somehow, even when he was down for the count could pull it out of the chute, he could still get the notes out even if he was cut. And I always watch the way he always bent his knees when he played, and he would do all the gyrations with his horns and stuff, but that’s all show business. But you watch him play and every pose you see him in, his knees are kind of bent and he’s leaning back a little bit. Well, that’s just kind of getting his center of gravity in place. And I know he would do that when he was in trouble especially. And I think it aided with the support somehow. And so I used to do that. I did it because I thought it looked cool. But I do it to this day. I notice when I’m up tight on the bandstand. If I feel like my chops are tired, I try to get into this relaxed state where I keep my upper body relaxed and I bend my knees a little bit and lower my center of gravity and it helps. So, I guess I learned that from him. I asked him many technical questions about air and breathing and he could never really answer those questions. Asking Maynard a question was, he’d go, “well, you know, Wayne, the breathing thing, you know, you gotta be able to breathe or you can’t live, you know, the air goes in and the air goes out and now there you have it.” So I don’t know what I’m gonna do with that information, but it was kind of kind of like that, you know, where I think he knew what he was doing but couldn’t explain it, and they always talk about the yoga breath and all that stuff and Maynard was doing this stuff way before he discovered that other philosophy, you know, Bobby Shew is actually the one to hip Maynard to the art of breathing book. And I’m sure if you’re familiar with that about the yoga breath and Bobby perfected this, but he’s the first one to introduce it to Maynard, actually. A lot of people don’t know that that came from Bobby Shew, I’ll have to check my sources, but I’m pretty darn sure about that. And, uh, but Maynard, you know, that even took him to another level, you know.
[0:35:17] John Snell: So then when did you start getting established in LA? Were doing these touring bands? Were you doing studio stuff by then?
[0:35:24] Wayne Bergeron: A little bit, small time, you know, stuff, trying to trace back when I, you know, did my first, I can remember the first big session where I was nervous to be on was a movie for called Another Stake Out and it was Emilio Estevez was in the movie and Joe Solo was a contractor and he’s 90 years old. He’s still contracting, you know, he was a great woodwind player and Warren Luening was his first trumpet player. Now, at this time, I was just started playing in Bob Florence’s band, but I wasn’t doing studio work really, I was doing big band stuff and Warren had… they needed a trumpet player, you know, it was busy in town and they’d gone through their list and, and I guess there was gonna be some big band stuff on this movie. So Warren said, hey this guy Wayne plays good, you know, why don’t you try him? So I get there. Well, it turns out there’s no big band music. It’s all very orchestral, you know, and I’m playing fourth trumpet. It’s easy though, I’m looking at the parts, it’s easy. I’ve never been more terrified to play fourth trumpet in my life! And it was Malcolm McNab, George Graham, Warren Luening and myself. And I remember after the, we played the first couple of cues and there was a pyramid where I had the first note like boom, boom, you know, and I played it and I remember Arthur Rubinstein who was the composer stopping the band. He goes, “Who’s got the D concert on the trumpet?” And I’m like, oh crap, “I do”, you know, and he goes, “Bring that out.” I go, “oh, OK.” He was real kind of a gruff, little gruff, you know, and I’m terrified. So anyway, I get through it and I remember hearing Joe asking Warren, hey, how’s the kid doing? And then I stopped to kind of listen. He goes, “Oh, he’s doing a great job.” And that could have easily been the kiss of death. He [could have] said, oh, yeah, he’s a little green, you know, but Warren said, “Oh, he’s doing a great job.” So, I’ve been working for Joe Solo ever since; you get on somebody’s list like that and when they can use you, they use you. And now I play first trumpet for him. Warren’s passed away and Warren kind of handed me that and because of guys like Gary Grant and Warren Luening and Rick Baptist, and George Graham, those players really helped me as I came into the scene and, got me in some other or recommended me, you know, maybe saw, saw a little glimmer of hope in my playing, and so that’s how I got in there. Basically it’s like any other job, and you get recommended. And if you get the right people recommending you… Warren was really instrumental in my career and we became very close friends. We were, we were pals, we did social things together. He got me in the Hollywood Bowl orchestra. He always let me, he’d let me shine on a session. There’d be something there and he would be playing first and there was something he thought I would sound really great on, you know, it was something high and he could play all that high stuff too. But he just go, “I don’t want to work that hard,” you know, he was smart and he’d hand me the part and he goes, “I need to hear you.” So, there were several dates like that and that whole a composer going, wow, who, who played that? And I’m a new name. And so then I would get in with that composer and then maybe they start hiring me a little bit and so, yeah, basically that’s how I got in the, in the, in the ranks.
[0:38:22] John Snell: So, what being a studio musician, is it, what did you have to learn on the job that you didn’t get, being on the road or in your trumpet lessons?
[0:38:30] Wayne Bergeron: Consistency. I mean, and having to do it right away and, you know, not messing up. I mean, it’d be interesting if you’ve ever sat in on a scoring session with a big orchestra on the strings are playing a million. The first read down is perfect for the most part. I mean, there might be a little something here and there, but basically it’s pretty darn good. It’s gonna be better than most anything and then it gets better and better and better. So the consistency thing and, you know, these players like Malcolm McNab and Jon Lewis are very good examples of great studio first trumpet players because they don’t miss, they don’t chip notes, they don’t misread, you know, rarely. I mean, we all miss notes a little bit but they, they set the bar very high. So when you’re in a section with players like that, you need to rise to the occasion, you know they’re not gonna miss, so I always figure, well, if somebody misses, it’s probably gonna be me, so that being in that environment makes you play better. And so now when I play first trumpet, I have that confidence level. So when I come in, I’m going OK, I’m not gonna miss and I think it’s brought my consistency level up. So I think being in that genre of work can be very helpful with that. And, you know, you’re under the gun, kind of too, you’re under a lot of pressure. And I remember bringing a student to a session one time and I had this little easy solo to play just, you know, or something. But it was all by myself, you know. And he goes, “Oh, that didn’t seem that hard,” because I was saying, oh, man, that was scary. And he goes, “Well, why was that scary?” And I go, “Well, come here” and I acted like I was putting a gun to his head. I go, “Ok. Now play it.” That’s what it’s like, that’s what it feels like in that environment because if you mess up and then that’s at the end of the queue, maybe it was a really difficult violin solo earlier, you know, or a very difficult clarinet solo. Well, they all have to play their solos again now too, because you missed your little easy thing. So that’s the scary part of that for me. I mean, I try not to let it bother me too much and, and now that I’m friends with the players you’re around, it’s a little more comfortable but new in the scene you come in and you’re messing up. They go, “Oh, who’s this new guy? He’s sucking in here. He’s stinking up the joint,” you know, you don’t want to be that guy or gal.
[0:40:42] John Snell: Besides the studio stuff, over the last few years you’ve come up with your own solo albums. What made you decide to start doing your own thing?
[0:40:51] Wayne Bergeron: The kind of like threats from composer friends and stuff. Tom Kubis always used to say you should do a solo CD and I was never interested in doing that. I had recorded this thing on a Christmas record with him years ago, this O Holy Night. Maybe you’ve heard, or you haven’t. Anyway, it’s become a very big deal every Christmas, this thing has become like, has a cult following and, and people call me up at Christmas time and go, “We just played O Holy Night, Merry Christmas!” I mean, it’s like these guys in Florida, they have this big party every year and they call me and they listen to it in their car, you know, after they’ve been drinking and, and so it’s something I’m very proud of and that was a long time ago. But Tom said you should do a CD, because look at the attention this gets, and I decided to… I had these three tunes that I had done and I decided to go in a session. Well, let me go record these, if nothing else, I’ll have a little demo to use for something. Well, the three tunes I did came out pretty darn good. I played it for Gary Grant and he goes, “Man, Wayne, this sounds great.” He goes, “but yeah, the mix sucks.” He goes. So he wanted to go and remix it. So we went in and did another three tunes and Gary became the producer at that point and then, I ran up that credit card and then we went in another year later and we did another three tunes because it cost, you know, a lot of money to do this. And, and so I put the CD and not thinking much of it. I mean, I thought I was proud of it. I thought it came out pretty good and I, I had tunes written that I could sound good on, you know, I don’t, you know, I’m thinking about guys that or gals that do things like this, you know. I didn’t want to be a one trick pony. I didn’t want it to be just a high note trumpet record because that’s kind of what I’m known for. But I try to do different things on there and in my jazz playing, I I’m not, you know, breaking any new ground as an improviser, I can improvise but I picked tunes I could sound decent on and I play this so I wanted to play some jazz on there. I wanted to play some flugelhorn. I wanted to play pretty and also, you know, play some high stuff. So I think I grew as a player from doing that for CD. I learned a lot and which, anyway, the success of that CD and ended up getting nominated for a Grammy. Yeah, which was like, wow, what a shock that was, you know, from something that I paid for myself, no record label, you know, on a shoestring budget basically, you know, and it came out really nice and it spawned into where Concord Records, ended up signing me for another CD Hal Gaba who’s passed away, he was the CEO at the time. He loved the trumpet. He would show up at gigs a lot. He was kind of a big jazz fan and we approached him with it and with doing a new CD project and he ended up giving me some money, it’s kind of unheard of now, all these kind of things. He gave me 35 grand or something and it wasn’t enough, by the way. But I had some money to do a second CD, which I did and it and it’s on their label and another one came out real nice and I ended up doing a Christmas CD and called the group the After Hours Brass.
[0:43:47] John Snell: That’s the Music & Mistletoe?
[0:43:48] Wayne Bergeron: Yeah. And it’s this guy, Gary Slechta, had done these brass quintet arrangements of Christmas things and I always thought they were really nice and I said, well, let’s record those. Why not? And so it was brass quintet instrumentation, but I thought they needed, you know, brass quintets never seemed to swing to me. Even if they swing, they don’t, you know, but you add a rhythm section to it. So, on the tunes that really needed it, we added a rhythm section of Trey Henry, Christian Jacob and, and Ray Brinker, who are the rhythm section of my big band as well. And I had Tierney Sutton sing on a couple of tunes and it came out nice, so that’s three CDs and number four, almost done, actually, gotta track just a couple more tunes. I don’t quite have a title yet. I think we’re gonna call it Full Circle. And Full Circle is one of the tunes that a guy named Wally Minko had written. He, he wrote it for Maynard’s last CD in hopes that Maynard would record it, which he didn’t. It was written for a smaller ensemble, so we expanded it out to full big band. So I recorded that and Arturo Sandoval and I are playing on that together. We made it into a trumpet duet type thing.
[0:44:54] John Snell: What you mentioned earlier that might be, you’re gonna pay tribute to some of the other players on it, I guess it’s gonna kind of be a tribute but not necessarily a tribute album, but you’re paying respects…
[0:45:05] Wayne Bergeron: Well, yeah. Yeah. But the guys, I like Warren Luening who was a big influence to me. To not dedicate the record to him would be for me would be ridiculous. You know, he just he did so much for my career and my playing and I learned a lot from him and I think every note I play, I try to have a little bit of Warren Luening in it. How would he play it? You know. But Uan Rasey was such a mentor to me and so Gordon Goodwin was kind enough to do an arrangement of the Theme from Chinatown, which he’s very famous for, for big band and strings. We played it at Uan’s memorial. A matter of fact, it was written for that and I had Arturo Sandoval play that part because I was busy, I was kind of conducting the band and stuff. So we had different trumpet players playing. What else is on the front, I think what else is on that? Chris Walden did a really nice ballad for me, which is kind of like Warren Luening influenced, it’s called Wayneology and it starts as a ballad and playing the melody, I hear how Warren would play this melody and I tried to play it like that. And Maynard Ferguson, of course, so those players I’ll probably put some kind of dedication to all those players on, and George Graham, who was also very instrumental in my career and as a lead trumpet player, I learned a lot from George, I played in a lot of bands with him and Bob Lawrence and Tom Kubis’s band. And, you know, unfortunately, we lost him several years ago. And, so all those guys, I mean, I owe a great deal of respect to all of them for helping me with my career.
[0:46:40] John Snell: When do you think the album is gonna come out?
[0:46:42] Wayne Bergeron: I’m hoping by the end of the year, I mean, it’s almost, I just have to track a couple more tunes and mix. And we also have a, there’s a new addition to the thing that’s, it’s a trombone player in in Minnesota named Mike Nelson and he has a horn section called the Horn Heads. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them. They used to tour with Prince. They’re, they’re badass, great. Well, I did a concert in Minnesota with a big band and all the guys in the Horn Heads were in the big band. And so Mike Nelson wrote this James Bond medley to feature big band and myself and, and the Horn Heads like a feature. So he sent me the track, he was kind enough full rhythm section. He recorded it in Minnesota, put the Horn Heads parts on there and he said, put your big band on it and my solo part. So I’ve been working on that and, uh, it’s kind of a little tribute to the great trumpet player, Derek Watkins who played on every James Bond movie, by the way, as well as hundreds and hundreds of other things. I did a concert in London a year and a half ago and Derek was still alive, maybe it’s been two years now he was still alive and I never met him and I walked out and I was doing a guest artist thing, but it was with a professional band there. And I walked into the club and I walked out in front of the stage and right where you’re sitting is Derek Watkins and his wife. And I’m like, oh, holy crap, man. And I told him I was as nervous as a hooker in church, you know, with him sitting there. But I’m glad I got to meet him that night and hang with him because unfortunately we lost him, you know, to cancer and it really, really sucks. So, he’s left quite a legacy and so I’ll probably put his, his name will be attached to that. Matter of fact that when we did the Oscars two years ago, there was a big James Bond montage, that we played and it had all the classic [hums] when I was playing first on this. And, I was texting Derek’s wife, Wendy Watkins and Derek was home, dying at this time basically. And they’re watching live in the middle of the night over there, you know, in the middle of the three o’clock in the morning. And I just said, hey, coming up is the James Bond montage, told Derek I’ll try not to f this up. And she said a lot of laughs, Derek’s laughing, you know. And, uh, so anyway, that was kind of close to giving me chills thinking about it.
[0:48:50] John Snell: Besides all of that stuff, you also, I mean, you’re a regular at the Pantages theater too.
[0:48:58] Wayne Bergeron: Yeah, I do most of the shows there where there’s trumpet and I’ve been working there for quite a few years now.
[0:49:05] John Snell: So you’re doing musical stuff then you also, you tour around the world doing clinics and master classes and guest appearances. Is that through Yamaha?
[0:49:16] Wayne Bergeron: Well, that all started from that first CD. You know, you put a product out there and people hear you and then a couple of band directors, it wasn’t the first guest soloist of all of those things I’ve ever done. I did some when I was younger that I fell on my face on. But band directors kinda I forget. One of the very first guest artist, things I ever did before I did a CD was at Caltech, Bill Bing had hired me. And I played in the band over there and that was, I was just a guest artist there last year. My girlfriend, Barb Catlin, who is a great, great piano player. She runs a jazz band now, she took Bill’s place. He’s still there, but she runs the jazz band and the improv class. So she hired Andy Martin and I as a guest artists. So the same venue, you know.
[0:50:00] John Snell: That’s gotta be the unofficially the smartest big band in the world.
[0:50:03] Wayne Bergeron: Well, yeah! If you’ve got any kind of math equation or physics equation, they’re the ones that ask, you know, they can’t cut off on beat four, though. It’s the weirdest thing, you know, can’t cut off a car, they can count. Oh, they did great, man. They kicked butt. So that was one of the very first ones I did. But from recommendations from people like that, when band directors talk “Hey, we had Wayne Bergeron out.” “How was his clinic? How was his master class?” And if you get the thumbs up, these things start feeding off. I mean, I, I could probably make a career of guest artist things if I took all of them or pursued them. I’ve never really pursued them. They’ve just kind of come to me. I hired an agent when Maynard died. He was with Paradise Artists and Bob Burke was his was his manager, his agent. And so they had a big void. They deal with a lot of rock acts. They have a big void in their jazz thing, and so he signed me because, and he wanted me to take a band on the road, which I couldn’t really do, but I said, well, I do these educational things in clinics so they’ll book those things for me as well. Most of them I book on my own, but some through them, if something’s gonna be out of the country, I usually have the agent book it because they can handle the visas and all that kind of stuff. But that’s been a, it’s kind of a career I didn’t plan on, and I like doing it. It’s fun and it’s exciting and I get nervous because you know, there’s nothing worse than playing at a college jazz festival and you’re the big cheese and you’re playing at the end of the thing and you got 2,000 high school and college kids sitting there with their arms crossed going, ok, impress me. Man, you got to hit a home run, you do. You can’t fall on your face. But with YouTube and, and smartphones, everybody’s looking for you to fold. And so even at rehearsals, I never phone it in at rehearsals because somebody’s always filming me. So I’m giving it when I play rehearsal, I play just like it’s a concert. I give it everything I got. And so at the concert, I do my best not to suck, and even if the chops don’t agree, you know, sometime. So that’s a learning experience too, being out there. And just, and that’s what I learned from Maynard. You’re out there, you got to do it. Get through this thing, you know, go to your, go to the basics, things your teachers taught you as a trumpet player, relax, use less pressure, get the wind moving, and things will happen for you and the notes will still come out.
[0:52:20] John Snell: It wouldn’t be a trumpet podcast if we didn’t talk a little bit about equipment. And it’s probably well documented what you play on.
[0:52:27] Wayne Bergeron: I play 7C, doesn’t everybody? That’s what Warren Luening played on!
[0:52:32] John Snell: You’re a Yamaha artist for a number of years. You have your own model, you have your own model of the GR mouth pieces.
[0:52:37] Wayne Bergeron: Can we talk about that here at Bob Reeves’s? Fair game? I mean, I was telling you, I’ve known Bob Reeves for 35 years, was in the seventh or eighth grade when I met him. Every mouthpiece that’s been made for me since then was based off of that. So this mouthpiece on some level has a little bit of Bob Reeves in it.
[0:52:58] John Snell: Well, since most folks know what you’re playing on or can find out; we’ll have links to your website and Yamaha’s website and what not. But maybe you can talk a little bit about some insight in the process of how you developed your mouthpiece or how you developed your model of trumpet. I mean, what went into it, how did you decide what was better than the other?
[0:53:19] Wayne Bergeron: Well, with the trumpet, Bob Malone and I, we knew each other at Disneyland. He was in the fanfare trumpet unit. So we’d known each other for years. He worked for Larry Minick and honed his skills as far as a brass technician and eventually, he was customizing Yamaha trumpets and making them better. So Yamaha hired him. So now he’s the R&D brass guy for the head honcho for Yamaha. He’d approached me about playing Yamaha instruments and we started with some stock instruments and then we ended up, let’s come up with a model. So we took several years. I mean, it was a long slow process, but Bob would send me different horns and we’d catch different lead pipes and we’re doing all these things and I was playing a Kanstul trumpet at the time that ended up becoming my model. But basically, it was a stock Kanstul trumpet. It was a .250 pipe and a 72 bell. So kind of like a Bach copy and a Kanstul. And Charlie Davis and I while drinking moonshine one evening, tweaked the horn out and made it play really great. You know, he did some stuff to the lead pipe into the slides and stuff and then all of a sudden this horn became better than the stock version. And I liked that horn a lot. I mean, it had its issues like every trumpet does, but it had a good sound and I played a lot of good notes on that trumpet. O Holy Night was on that trumpet, you know, and so I played that for several years and, and that was gonna be my role model for whatever we came up with. So when I started playing Yamaha trumpets, you know the horns I’m playing with all of a sudden they’re very different from what I’m used to, maybe the sound or the blow. So we’re trying to get the comfort zone for me. So I tell Bob what I was feeling and he would send another lead pipe and I go ok, that’s better now, I’m not sure about the sound yet. You know, it’s just different. Let me get used to it. And so I’d have three or five, I’d be at the Pantages theater with three or four horns in there. My Kanstul. Then on different cues and then Larry Hall, my section made him my go-to guy for information like that. He’d go, “Man, that one sounds good.” And it was one of the Yamahas. So I started gravitating towards that horn. It didn’t feel, to be honest with you, it didn’t feel as good as my other horn to me, but he was saying it sounded good. So let me just play it for a while. Well, we ended up taking that one and Bob would do different tweaks to it and we changed tuning crooks and we tried all the things you can imagine you do different bell beads. And now I’m used to it, but I’m still, to be honest with you, I still kind of like my Kanstul still better, but everybody’s telling me I sound better on this Yamaha trumpet. So I would do blindfold tests and I’d have people turn around and they kept picking the Yamaha trumpet and I go, how could that be? It doesn’t feel like it sounds better. So I finally gave up. I said, you know, nobody is saying I sound better on this Kanstul trumpet. And not that it sounded bad. It was a great trumpet and Zig is a fine craftsman and old friend. I’ve known him even longer than, you know, I was in drum and bugle corps in sixth grade. I’ve known Zig since then, you know, he worked for Olds, so I finally, I signed off on it and Yamaha went into production and so I said, ok, this is what I’m gonna play now and I got used to it, I started liking it more and more and it’s interesting. Now when I go back to what I used to play, my Kanstul, which was a great horn, it’s so different to me now that I don’t like it anymore. And I guess the moral of the story is when people are trying horns and mouthpieces, a lot of times I’ll disregard something because it’s different, you know, like, oh, this is not, this doesn’t sound well if you’re, if you want something exactly like what you’ve got, why don’t you just stick with what you’ve got, if you’re happy, but let’s face it. No trumpet player is really happy. They’re looking for the Magic Mountain. So this horn to me is a big, a big step up for what I like, in my opinion. It’s got good, good focus and core and I can do a lot of things and it’s a versatile instrument. A lot of symphony players use it as their B-flat of choice. A lot of bebop players use it. A lot of lead players use it so it’s become a very popular horn for Yamaha. And I’m really proud to be associated with it. But that’s basically in a nutshell how it came to be. And maybe like Bobby Shew, they came up with a new model of his years and years later from the 63 10 Z to the 83 10 Z. So maybe we’ll even find some other improvements we can make down the road. Yeah, but right now, I love my horn. I couldn’t be happier with my equipment and I’m let me knock on wood here. Trumpet players never say that. You know, I like the mouthpiece that I play and I like my trumpet a lot.
[0:57:41] John Snell: Was it a similar process with Gary Radtke and GR mouthpieces?
[0:57:44] Wayne Bergeron: That relationship started very differently. I the way I ended up on a GR mouthpiece, I was playing a Marcinkiewicz. Can we say that here? Joe and I are old friends. I have one of Joe’s first custom mouthpieces he ever made, before he was in business. He was working out of his garage. So Joe and I go back a long way as well. And that mouthpiece was so big. It almost killed me and I played on it for years. Anyway, I ended up, you know, I switched mouthpieces a lot. I ended up on a Marcinkiewicz, Bobby Shew 1.5 by default. I was practicing one day and I was just pulling mouthpieces out of the drawer and I… there’s gotta be something to make this easier. And so I popped this mouthpiece in and the rim felt kind of sharp on my lip and it seemed shallow to me. But this mouthpiece has a really great center, but I didn’t really, I was playing bigger stuff at the time, you know. So I wasn’t gonna play this. I was just trying it. Well, I go to a Gordon Goodwin gig that night at the Baked Potato. I get to the club and I take my horn out and I realize the only mouthpiece I brought with me is that Marcinkiewicz 1.5 and I left my other mouthpiece on the music stand. So I had to play the gig on it and, I was going, oh, crap, you know, so I, we play the gig and I’m chipping a lot of notes at first and stuff and I’m kind of not in my comfort zone, but as the gig went on, I’m fighting this thing. And I’m realizing, well, I’m not working as hard. And by the end of the second set I was going, I could play a third set and that never happens in that band. So I started playing that mouthpiece. So, and it, and it served me very well for… so I took a lesson with Bobby after I switched to it too. And so he goes, I’ve been waiting for you to get some practical equipment here, you know, you’re finally coming to your senses, and he was right, so I’m playing and I’m liking his mouthpiece now. It’s a little smaller than what I’m used to. So I ended up getting one of his 2.0s as well, bigger, you know, to play other kind of music on just, you know, have a little more overtones in the sound, because that was shallow to me. He has even a shallow, shallower one, but I couldn’t play that one. So anyway, the year’s gone, several years ago, I got a cyst on my lip, on my lower lip, and it took me out of the game. I was really messed up and I’d lost some weight at the time and, and I was going through a lot of stress in my life at the time. And so I think I was, I was weak and using more pressure and I caused this fatty cyst on my lower lip and I couldn’t play for a while. They had to shoot it with Cortisone and do all this stuff. Well, when that went away, I was really leery of hurting it again. So I subconsciously, I was leaning on my top lip now and I caused some trauma there and I ended up with this, it ended up being kind of infected scar tissue on my top lip. And that really messed me up where I couldn’t play and I kept trying to play on it and it was getting infected and it was when I, I put alcohol on it and I try to numb it up with stuff and I’d go play gigs and in fact, sounded awful. I was really struggling. Finally, I went to this tissue. I was in Washington DC and I was gonna play with this all-star military band and I couldn’t play the gig that night. I said, I can’t play. And so I emceed the gig and the trumpet players, it was a great trumpet section. Brian MacDonald was playing the trumpet for so these guys were all splitting my parts of it. So I just got drunk and, and emceed the gig and did my best Jack Sheldon impersonation and made fun of them because they would be splitting my parts up, you know, somebody play the jazz and play the lead and I was going, you know, the, the high part I go, “that’s not so easy back there, is it?” It ended up being a fun gig. But, but also very sad for me because I couldn’t play. So Brian MacDonald was kind enough to get me on to the Air Force base to the tissue specialist and he looked at my lip and he’s an ex-trumpet player, Doctor Ridge is the name, I’m forgetting his first name at the moment. But really sweet man. And he just said you need to stop playing right now. He goes, if you’re gonna do permanent damage and he goes and I could give you another cortisone shot. But every time you do that, it weakens the muscle and he goes, I’m just gonna cause more trauma. He goes, you have to know you have to stop and let it. I’ll give you some topical stuff. Water therapy, like shower massager, which I did five times a day and I had an aloe plant that Bobby Shew said get sorry. I had a plan. I was cutting the good stuff out of the middle of the thing. And every night before I went to bed, I had a session with a shaman, like a spiritual healer. I mean, I was freaking out because I couldn’t play and I went to acupuncture. I did all this stuff when I was, I remember just freaking out about not being able to play. Anyway, the thing went away. I came back very slowly. Larry Hall and I would practice together and he was very good with me. He’d take my mouthpiece away so I couldn’t play too much, you know, and I slowly kind of came back and we were gonna be doing a show at the Pantages theater together. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, that show. And so as my chops were coming back, I was feeling a little more confident and I said, well, Larry, why don’t we split the lead book up – this piccolo trumpet, why don’t you play all that? And I’ll play what I can kind of play. And as I get stronger throughout the run, I don’t wanna hurt myself, I’ll take maybe a couple of things back and I go, we can just split the first trumpet money. We’ll just get this, you know. So I wasn’t gonna make him do all the work. And we take the, the first trumpet money, you know, principal money. So we split it up and it worked real well and I got pretty strong by the end of the run, I was doing pretty darn good. I was hitting some good high Fs and I felt like I was back, you know, like, all right, I’m all right. But I really hadn’t pushed it, so fast forward to going to, I’m sorry, the story is getting so long winded, but…
[1:03:07] John Snell: It’s free air time, it’s on the Internet!
[1:03:09] Wayne Bergeron: But it will lead us into how I ended up on this mouthpiece and I might as well tell the story, what the heck, you know., so we get to Japan and we got five nights, two sets a night at the Blue Note with Gordon Goodwin’s band. We’re in this club, is kind of hard to play in kind of a dead room. The hardest book ever written, undoubtedly Gordon Goodwin’s book, really very difficult on many, many levels, so we start the first set and first couple of tunes. I feel pretty good. But I’m like, oh boy, it’s gonna be a long week, man. I haven’t been playing like this. Well, middle of that set, my lips started hurting and I’m going, oh, no. And my mouthpiece felt like a razor, man. Just felt like my fingernail was going into my lip. And I told Dan Savant the fourth trumpet player and the band contractor. I just said, Dan, I said, I might have to go home, man. I go, I feel like I’m gonna hurt myself. I don’t think I can get through five days of this. Maybe Eric Miyashiro who lives here can come and fill in for me or something, you know, I can talk over the book with him, but I go, I’m gonna hurt myself and he said, well, It’ll just all right, we’ll talk about it after the set. And so I’m passing the first parts, you know, I’m, I’m playing just third parts or fourth parts, and it got to the point where I couldn’t make a sound. So before the end of the second set, I’m really struggling. So at the end of the set, I put ice on my lip and I’m doing a lot of fluttering and, and I kind of get to where I can play again a little bit, you know. So we start the second set. Well, two tunes in, I can’t play anymore. I go, man, I’m done, I’m done here. And this guy Willie Murillo was subbing in the band for Dan Fornero and playing the split lead book. And he said, what does it feel like I go, my mouthpiece feels sharp, it just hurts. And he goes, well, I have this mouthpiece and he got into his mouthpiece bag and he pulled out this GR mouthpiece and he goes, it’s got a really soft rim. He goes, I don’t really like it, but it might feel better. So I put it up and it was very cushiony. I mean, it’s like the bite starts from the outside and not kind of like Maynard. It’s not that drastic and not that shallow. And so I put that up and it’s really rounded, but it’s bigger rim too. So it’s not hitting me in the same place. Like, oh God, that feels better. It doesn’t hurt so much. And I played a note and I went [hums] and a pretty good sound came out in the middle C. I go, oh, let me try this. And so I play and I’m making sound again all of a sudden. So my, somehow the other mouthpiece with the scar tissue development was impeding the vibration. It was pinning me in a way. So it wasn’t my chops so much as the way the mouthpiece was hitting me. So this mouthpiece all of a sudden, things freed up a little bit. So we get to the third or fourth tune on the set and it’s a lead part and it’s one of the easier lead parts like, well, let me just try it and I played and I had some high Ds in it and all of a sudden, man, and I was, man, I’m back. Holy crap. You know, now it was a little harder to center this mouthpiece. I didn’t know anything about it, you know, but I was back and by the end of that set and then I played Rhapsody in Blue and I played that solo and I set when I was banging out high As, by the end of that set, we played this rhythm changes tune called Race to the Bridge. And it’s got a double high D on the end of it, might be the best double high D I’ve ever played. And even Gordon is looking back going “What just happened? You were doing…” I mean, I was just down for the count a half an hour before that, I couldn’t play. So I’m going ok. Well, if there’s a magic mouthpiece, I’ve just found it. And that’s, so I’m looking at this thing and it had some scribbling on the side, a signature and I couldn’t even read it. I could just look like [noises]. And it’s very rounded and deeper than what I played. And I don’t know anything. I didn’t know anything about his mouthpieces at the time, to be honest with you. I mean, I knew about him, but so I called him from Japan. I go Gary, “Wayne Bergeron. We met before” and I said, “I’ve got this mouthpiece” and I told him this whole story and, he goes, “Well, what does it look like?” And I go, “Well, looks like the first letter is C”, he goes “Does it say Carl Fischer Jazz?”. I go, “Oh, that’s what it is!” He goes, “Oh, it’s a Carl Fischer Jazz. You’re playing lead on that? That’s the biggest backbore I make!” and I go, “Oh, well, I don’t know.” I said, “I’m glad you didn’t tell… I didn’t know that before,” I said, “but I think it just saved my career.” And then I told him, “Well, the woes with it where I was having trouble centering some notes like around high F-sharp, I would overshoot.” It was like my best description of how the mouthpiece fit me was like up to high F it was like going down a five-lane highway wide open. And when you got to F-sharp, it was like there was an accident and only one lane was open and you could hit that F-sharp. But if you weren’t careful, you’re gonna hit something else, you know, and then G was nonexistent. And then after that, the highway opened up again. So the notes above that. So like a little break in the mouthpiece. And I said, “What can we do about that?” And he goes, “All right. So you’ll have, I’ll have mouth pieces waiting for you when you get back.” So he made several different mouthpieces and he said, “I’m gonna change the rim slightly and I’m gonna bring the bite in just a little bit to give you some grip, because the mouthpiece has no grip the way it is, you know,” and he goes, “but I won’t, it’ll hit you the same way.” And he said, “I’m gonna just change a couple of things.” And so he changed the venturi a little bit and he changed the backbore. He made it, put a different backbore on it and, didn’t mark any of them except “12345”. So I wouldn’t know. And so he said, “I want you to warm up on number one and then tell me what you think.” And then I told him, I said “This one fixes the centering problem on that, but the upper register is very difficult on this one.” He goes, “OK, because I just wanted to make sure I could fix the problem because now I can fix that.” Then he sent me and he goes, “Forget about those other ones. They’re not gonna work.” and then he sent me a couple of more and then all of a sudden that upper register goes. But now I’m because those notes are sharp. So like the Gs, the high Gs were kind of sitting on the high side and the F-sharps, you know. And so he said, “Ok, that’s what’s happening because that’s what I thought might happen.” and he sent something else and it brought the pitch in and we finally kind of dialed it in, you know, to where it was comfortable. And maybe that upper register magic that I felt with that original mouthpiece wasn’t quite that open, but it’s in a practical place now where everything’s connected, you know, so maybe I lost the 10% of that magic I was having that night, but I have the center on all the notes now. And, and so the mouthpiece plays very, even from bottom to top. And it took, it took me making a trip to see him for eight hours as well where he watched me play and he does his playing tests, which seem a little ridiculous at first, because he’s gonna, he makes you play all these things, he’s going… I’m a professional trumpet player. Don’t tell me how to play, you know. But then I started realizing, well, he’s a pretty darn good trumpet player himself, and even though he hasn’t played in a while, he gets a lot out of these tests. And so he listened to me play and he’d go make another mouthpiece. He would, we would never modify what we had. We’d always start with that and then he’d make the modification in the computer, then we’d make another and that’s how we, that’s how we dialed it in. And so the playing test. So the attack was right. And I could do everything I wanted to do on it. And then we ended up making a classical mouthpiece as well based on the same thing and a flugel mouthpiece and, and one of those deep ones he calls it an FD, you know, I know Bob makes a mouthpiece like that as well, like a flugel depth for or the trumpet. And they’re wonderful, the rims are comfortable and now that being said, we were talking earlier about different being better. Sometimes, in this case, I would have never picked that mouthpiece if I was in the heat of my career and my chops felt great and I picked that mouthpiece up. I would have disregarded it instantly. I would have gone, “Awwf! This rim’s horrible! Who plays on this kind of crap?” Well, I was forced into it and I found out that just like with my trumpet, the different can be better, you know, so if you can embrace that and when players can keep an open mind, when trying out equipment and take some, spend some time with it, they might find that they’re going down a better path efficiency-wise and, and sound-wise and everything.
[1:10:38] John Snell: Well, I’ve got a few short questions
[1:10:40] Wayne Bergeron: That didn’t take long did it?
[1:10:41] John Snell: .That was perfect. It’s great to hear the inside stories. How these things develop because we see them in the magazines or on the websites and I get the real deal. So a couple of quick questions to wrap up, that may not be short. But, I mean, you probably get asked all the time how you play so high. But I’d like to…
[1:11:00] Wayne Bergeron: I practice that way!
[1:11:02] John Snell: I’d like to maybe ask that a little different. You travel around to a lot of schools. You see a lot of players, what do you think are kind of the most common mistakes that players make, that keep them from playing successfully in the upper register?
[1:11:15] Wayne Bergeron: You know, it’s interesting. I read something from Bobby Shew just the other day. He sent me this article he’d written years ago, but he modified it about mouthpiece selection. And, I think, and I tend to agree with this, I think that many young players when they start are on something that’s too big for them and they end up developing bad habits that carry into their play, like embouchure problems that end up developing into their playing later. I mean, like having somebody that’s very small with a small face, a small lips starting them on a 1.5C or even a 7C, you know, as opposed to something with a little more compression an M cup, something that fits that face a little better, as Bobby says the Three Ps: Pinch, Press, and Play, and that’s what would, what a lot of young players do and a lot of times because they’re on something, they’re not getting any help from their equipment. So I think some embouchure problems come from that. Not all, obviously, you know, every face is different. Everybody’s teeth are different. Some people have under bites and over bites and all these different things. So one way of doing this obviously does not apply. You know, you look at every trumpet book and you see the posture of what a trumpet player is supposed to look like. Well, that’s 10% of the population, you know, those guys playing, pointing up and pointing down and off to the side in all these different ways. For, for players having trouble getting to that next note, maybe, let’s say a player can hit a high C, can’t play that C-sharp if you put a gun to their head. Well, why is that? The notes are so close together. There’s, you know, several reasons for that. It could be a tongue level, even though I’m not really a big tongue level guy, there’s some tongue level and above it could be part of that, could be everything’s too wide open, maybe, but it could also be something as simple as like a little pressure shift, like maybe, changing the direction of the airstream of the mouthpiece, pointing it up upward a little bit or maybe you tilt the head down so a little more pressure goes on the top lip. I’ve had students, you know, I had a student that could play high E and that’s all he could play. And I lifted his bell while he was playing from the bottom and he went to a G and he’s been trying for months you know, practicing and practicing. You can practice until you’re blue in the face when you’ve hit your plateau. Unless you try something different, you’re gonna develop that high E really great. It’s gonna get great. You’re not gonna play a high F. Something’s got to change and it’s not muscle, it’s not strength and, and with trumpet, we always equate everything with strength. Trumpet players, “Oh, you gotta have strong embouchure, you gotta have strong wind.” It’s discovery. I mean, it’s discovering how to play those notes. Now you need corner strength. We need a strong face for endurance so we can hold the corners together so we can keep the air in the mouthpiece. So it’s not leaking out the sides. That’s where our strength comes in. But strength in playing the note, it’s how we compress the air inside the mouthpiece. Compression equals horsepower. The more horsepower you have the faster you go, right? Just like a car when that car piston goes up and it goes up like it compresses that air. Then the valve opens. The higher the dome piston, the more compression, it’s like a shallow mouthpiece, higher compression, deeper mouthpiece has less compression. So the air slows down drastically when it passes the lips. And which is why it’s more difficult to play high on a big mouthpiece. And I hate to, you know, go against tradition here and people saying, well, “you just got to practice hard” but people kind of have their head stuck in the sand of tradition a little bit with the demands on today’s players and just people’s facial makeup, the size of their lips, somebody with very thick fleshy lips, A 3C is going to be much shallower for them than it will be for somebody with very thin lips because their lips are taking up some of that cup space creating that compression. And it’s something that, you know, trumpet players are kind of knuckleheads and don’t understand that they’re looking for the magic mouthpiece, because somebody’s names on it or because, you imagine how many Maynard Ferguson mouthpieces are paperweights now because people would try to play them. They’re impossible to play by most people. I mean, people figure out… like Roger Ingram can play one, and sound amazing and I always crack up and go “How you get a sound out of that?” And Maynard did pretty good on it. I don’t know if you noticed. But for the practical everyday player, the school band player, they need a practical mouthpiece that’s gonna fit them to suit this type of music they’re playing and the size of their lips and the size of their face and their teeth structure and all that. But getting back to developing those higher notes, the mouthpiece can help. It’s not the end all. But it’s, you know, pressure shifts, air direction shifts. I’m not a big tongue level guy saying “ee” for the upper register, even though I do think the tongue rises. But I think that adds… syllables to me add brightness more than changing the, you make the, I guess you speed the air column up but you’re making the oral cavity smaller which I guess helps assist getting the higher notes, but opera singers don’t do that. Opera singers sing very high notes wide open with, if the syllable is “ah” that they’re singing, they have to go “ah,” they can’t go “ee” on it if it’s an “ah” syllable. So I think trumpet players tend to overthink that a little bit and not to take anything away from the great knowledge of people like Claude Gordon because they’re definitely on the right track. I just think I think that’s a good tool to teach, but I think you can hear somebody that’s overusing it in their sound, that sound becomes thin. And so Maynard Ferguson actually told me that he said, “think like an opera singer when you play a ballad and the sound will be open.” And so that’s something that I’ve kind of always carried in the back of my head with me. When I play a ballad up high, I try to sound and George Graham used to do that too, you know, when you hear Bobby Shew play, that’s how he plays. And Maynard was the king of that. Just sounded white. Maynard went from high C to double high C. The double high C would be louder and bigger. It wouldn’t get, it wouldn’t be the opposite. It wouldn’t go to that point. It would go out. And so there’s something, I think to be said for that, but I think the tongue level does help with the range, that your tongue level will go up even saying an “ah” syllable. If you’re going higher, the back of the tongue will go up more than the front. And so you’re still getting that benefit of that extra lift, you might need to get those notes as opposed to pinching the lips together, you know, the “pinch, press and play” that Bobby talks about where it gets smaller and smaller. And until you start getting, that’s what most people think they need to do. The aperture needs to remain open, especially playing at a loud one, the louder you play, the wider the aperture is. It’s the only way you can play loud if you don’t, the aperture doesn’t open up, the note is not gonna get any louder. So to support that, on a higher note, like you’re gonna play a high G and thinking about, well, God, I gotta make my lips smaller. You can leave your lips in an open position, grip with your corners. And move more air to create the compression, to pass those up stuff to, to vibrate that frequency. If you watch Maynard Ferguson play, he’d put his tongue right between his lips, he’d open his lips so wide open, then you’d see him wrap his lips around the mouthpiece. It doesn’t say this in the Arban’s book or St. Jacome’s to do this. This is something that they would say was bad. Well, you know, maybe some of it is a little unorthodox but you hear the result in their sound. So I think there’s a way to do that and there’s a way to play soft and pretty and maybe that’s smaller and more elegant. But there are different tools in our tool chest, I think to, to do different things. Yeah, depending what the job is. So I do what Boyde Hood and Uan Rasey showed me is very different from that and it’s a very small, starting very small “poo” [sound]. Uan said it shouldn’t take more than this to start a note [sound], you know, and you see people reeling back and taking these giant breaths and, and just, you support it with the air, of course, but that’s all it should take. And that’s what, when they talk about “poo” attack. And so without the tongue. So I practice that way. Most of my practice when I do long tones and things like that is starting the notes like that to make sure the foundation is set. And I think that in the end, you know, players that are struggling with upper register stuff, most of the time their foundation is not very good, you can hear problems on a low C. So this problem is right in the foundational level of their playing. And so they’re looking for this double high C now I go, “Well, yeah, man, you got, your house is built on, sticks right now, you need to get some foundation to it.” So I take my students back to the beginning, I’ll show them range stuff and I’ll show them a couple of those tricks that we’re talking about, but I’ll make sure their foundation is set and they can start a note without their tongue and the vibration is resonant and the sound is resonant and, and they’re in the middle of the pitch and all those things aid to playing up there. They’re not fighting it anymore. So that makes sense, I think.
[1:19:56] John Snell: You mentioned earlier you grew up listening to Maynard and Bill Chase. So who do you listen to now? Trumpet players or non-trumpet players?
[1:20:04] Wayne Bergeron: Man, I have a wide range of stuff I listen to and I listen to I mean, I was, and it varies. I mean, my favorite musician on the planet is probably Stevie Wonder, you know. So I have Stevie Wonder in my CD rotation a lot, you know, I, I love, I love pop, good pop music, Trumpet players that I really dig: Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton. Till Brönner, my God. Have you heard him play? And he’s one of the classiest, most beautiful lyrical players. I mean, there’s so many that obviously Warren Luening, I loved his jazz playing. Sergei Nakariakov, the most spectacular trumpet player on the planet maybe, you know, and then Håkan Hardenberger, I think that’s how you say his name. I mean, I listen to their solo CDs all the time. And there’s many, many, many others. I listen to a lot of saxophone players and, and trombone players. I listen to a little bit of everything but those are the trumpet players like right now in my CD rotation. That’s what I’m kind of listening to. Singers, man. I love Dianne Reeves. I love Nancy Wilson, of course. You know, Tierney Sutton is one of the singers, that are around today. I love her beautiful lyrical voice. And you know, you think about how to sing or play a melody, you listen to somebody like that sing and that’s how you should play, it’s just got this freedom to it. So I go to vocalists a lot for my musical psyche a little bit too.
[1:21:37] John Snell: You mentioned that pop music. You just did, I just, been over I think the last year or so you recorded with the, Jerry Hey and Gary Grant for the Dirty Loops album?
[1:21:47] Wayne Bergeron: Yeah, it just came out a matter of fact, I just bought my copies.
[1:21:49] John Snell: We just got our shop copy.
[1:21:51] Wayne Bergeron: I bought ten as a matter of fact, I give them as gifts.
[1:21:54] John Snell: I just figured well, I mean, you’ve recorded with Jerry before, but this seemed like it was a real kind of special album.
[1:22:01] Wayne Bergeron: Oh, yeah. You know, it’s funny, I didn’t mention Jerry earlier as an influence because I was thinking more of soloist trumpet players. Jerry was a great soloist, but he’s obviously known for his great playing and his great horn writing and, you know, his work with Seawind and Quincy Jones and all those things. And he might be one of the greatest musicians on any instrument that I’ve ever met. Jerry Hey’s ears and what he hears and writes and the way he adapts things to different kinds of music. I mean, he’s a great orchestrator but for writing pop horns, stuff like that, nobody knows how to place the horns better than him. Where to put the horns so they’re not in the way. And it’s pretty so working with him every time I step into a studio with him and getting to be his surrogate trumpet player because he doesn’t play anymore, I pinch myself. Man, I’m in awe, I’m honored, literally honored to be in that section. The first I played a session years ago for the Pussycat Dolls and I stood between Gary Grant and Jerry Hey and played first, I saw somebody take a picture of this, you know, and I’m with my heroes, man, these guys because I wore out, you know, the Earth Wind and Fire things and Al Jarreau things and I transcribed them and before I even met Jerry. So getting to work on that thing, I’ve done other things before that with him. But the Dirty Loops thing, I think brings Jerry back to the, the past where he could really write some intricate stuff where most people want simple now. And that band is a very busy band and complicated group, you know. And so some of those licks are Jonah’s, the leaders licks, and some are Jerry’s. And the combining of those two because he’s a very talented writer, the leader of that band. So getting to do that was as soon as I heard the Dirty Loops, I was like, oh my God, this is gonna be great and it was hard and I knew it was gonna be hard going in. And so we did one, we did two tunes one day and then they decided they heard those two tunes because we did them here. We didn’t play with the band, obviously. And they decided to add us on another tune, you know, a few weeks later. And it came out alright. The only, my only complaint about it is, of course, we’re not hot enough in the mix and that’s gonna be my complaint to the day I die about every record that I play on. But they truly are. We’re back. I mean, you can hear that it’s real horns in there, but it’s, it’s tucked back the tune Roller Coaster on there. The mix is pretty good like that one. And I think Jerry had some influence. He said the horns really need to be hotter here.
[1:24:24] John Snell: that, there, there is the one lick at the end of that, the, I can’t think of the name of the tune…
[1:24:30] Wayne Bergeron: [vocalizing] Well, to be honest with you, Jerry had written a practical ending. That’s the lick that he played on the synthesizer. And Jerry wrote a more practical ending that could actually be played by human beings, you know. And so we gave them that option and then we played this other thing and it took a minute. I mean, it’s impossible, basically. That’s an impossible lick. So we pieced it together, we were like, [vocalizing] and then we concentrated on the next lick and then, that’s supposed to go to the grave with me. But let it be known we didn’t play it in one take, Dan Higgins did play it in one take so he could play it. But he has a lot more buttons, you know.
[1:25:10] John Snell: But that’s a Dirty Loops album which is out now, Loopified. Incredible. We blew a speaker in the back. In fact, I’ve been talking to Jerry because he’s gonna be doing an interview soon. I told him I blew a speaker out and he said, send you the bill because we were listening to…
[1:25:24] Wayne Bergeron: It’s I mean, really, I think these guys are going to save the music business, man. I mean, they’re bringing some integrity and now their stuff is pop-ish, and some of it even sounds techno-ey and there’s all this techno crap out there that’s done with machines, but this is real cats doing it. These can really play and they go into this other world. So, I mean, I know they’re trying to produce them so they can be big pop stars, but they’re getting real. So, yeah, so they’re using real horns and these guys are really playing and that singer man, forget about it. I mean, he’s just, he’s Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder rolled into one, man. He has just unbelievable range and style and pitch. I’m very, very proud to be involved with that. And I think for Jerry, it gave him a chance to like a throwback to like the crazy stuff he used to be able to write, and we just did actually Earth, Wind and Fire Christmas CD and Gary Grant and I played on that and Jerry and Bill Meyers did the horn stuff. So we used Gary and I on trumpets and then Gary Bias and Reggie Young, the trombone player on trombones, the regular trumpet player, Bobby lives out of state. So I don’t think they bring him in for these things. So it would have been cool to do it with him, too. Bobby’s my buddy, man. And yeah, but that was really funny.
[1:26:42] John Snell: He used to play that stuff live, too!
[1:26:43] Wayne Bergeron: Oh yeah, he’s gonna have to play this stuff we did live. We did a lot, but this is all pretty playable, you know, it’s not as hard as the Dirty Loops stuff, but Jerry wrote his butt off on this stuff and it’s Christmas stuff. It’s really good – Earth, Wind, and Fire doing Christmas music. It’s, it’s absolutely slamming good. And so, you know, I’m pinching myself here, man. I’ve gotten to play a couple of Earth Wind and Fire CDs and you know, I’m 56 years old, like I said, man. And I’m still in awe that I get to do this because there’s nothing I like more than playing the trumpet. And the fact that I get to do this for a living and I got to make some CDs on my own. My mother would be so proud, and I’m not over it, man. I mean, a lot of players rest on their laurels and, and they go or whatever, they’re sick of the business. I’m not, man. I love what I do and I want to keep getting better and very proud of it. So getting to work with Jerry, I just feel like I’ve arrived. It’s a cool, cool feeling, man. I’m in awe every time I see these guys and Gary was at my house last night, Gary Grant, he’s producing my… So we were tracking some stuff in my home studio for this James Bond medley, actually some extra stuff. And I was sitting there, you know, he was playing, I’m going Jerry Hey’s in my studio. I mean, Gary Grant’s in my studio banging this stuff out. So it was kind of cool.
[1:27:57] John Snell: Well, before we leave, I want one last question and that would be your best piece of advice if you could leave to the listeners and it could be trumpet playing, could be business, could be a combination, could be life advice… it’s open book, whatever you want to leave the listeners with.
[1:28:13] Wayne Bergeron: Well, I mean, you gotta follow your instincts, on what you’re doing or whatever instrument you play. You know, if you love to play and you’ve got some talent, and you pursue it. I mean, I would always advise just going through the school of hard knocks myself and I was lucky, not everybody is so lucky. I would advise the student to go to college, get that degree. I mean, have something that many, we need great educators too. So if you got the piece of paper, you can educate, you have to have the piece of paper to educate now. So I would, I recommend the, even though I didn’t go to college, I recommend them people stay in college and it doesn’t mean you’re taking your instrument, you’re gonna learn a lot of stuff, you practice your butt off, whatever you wanna do. And if you want to be a classical trumpet player and being in a symphony is your goal, then you go for that. I mean, there’s a very good chance you’re gonna fail because of the competition, but it’ll make you a great player and you’ll end up finding your niche even if that’s not what’s happening. As a player, I think the key is, is every time you pick up your instrument is you play with reverence and authority and you never phone it in. You don’t pick up the horn and go [vocalizing] and make the first note sound horrible. Your first note, you try to make it sound as great as you can make it. And so when you practice for young students, especially, they’re not focused. You need to pick up that horn and say, who’s your daddy? I’m gonna show you who’s boss here and you play that instrument and you from your first note, you try to make the best attack and the sound you can. And even if you’re playing the Clark second study, you make it sound like music, you play it with a great sound and that’s something a lot of people miss. They just kind of phone it in and they’re watching TV. If you want to get better, you gotta listen to what’s coming out of your bell and never phone it in. So that’s advice I end up giving to a lot of young students and you have to be prepared for frustration. It doesn’t matter if you’re a musician or your auto mechanic looking for a job. This frustration, I think you have to put the job equation out of it and put the passion for what you do first and maybe have a backup plan because that way you can follow your passion without too many distractions. There’s only so many jobs in any business, you know, if you’re gonna go work for IBM in that big building over there and somebody, there’s a job opening, there’s gonna be a lot of people that want that job and the person that’s gonna get the job is probably from somebody on the inside that recommends somebody, even though you might be better qualified. And that’s just the reality of life. And it happens in the music business and it happens, it’s not always the best person for the job, but who’s the best? I mean, who, who’s to say I’m better than this person. If everybody’s at a professional level and can do the job, I mean they might be the person that’s nicer, gets the job instead of the a-hole, you know, there’s a lot of, I know a lot of great musicians that are a-holes that I don’t want to work with and they’ll remain nameless because you might know some of them. But I’d rather work with people I like being around and people that are fun and want to get the job done and, and have a good time and I mean, we’re playing music, man. It is fun. I hate to think of it like a job. And even though that pressure brings it there sometimes, I hate that that’s a part of music because I hate that pressure.
[1:31:38] John Snell: Well, thank you so much for taking your morning to come up here and, and share your stories and give wonderful advice and Wayne Bergeron dot com. You can get the mouthpieces, information on the Yamaha trumpets, information about your CDs.
[1:31:55] Wayne Bergeron: You can email me with questions about anything any time at my website too. I try to get to everybody’s…
[1:31:59] John Snell: Contact information on there for clinics and what not all of that stuff at Wayne Bergeron dot com. And if you have problems spelling it, we’ll have it on our website as well, or you can of course Google it, but I don’t know anybody who these days has a problem finding you. But all the information, all the information is up there.
[1:32:15] Wayne Bergeron: Great! Thanks for so much for having me here this morning. It’s been really fun and you’re a great interviewer, by the way. Really nice job. Made it very easy.
[1:32:23] John Snell: So a big thank you to Wayne Bergeron. He was flying all over the world literally over the summer and wasn’t back in LA a week before he carved out some time to spend an entire morning with me here up at the shop doing this interview and we could have just talked all day. It was great. So I hope you got as much out of it as I did. But I swear, I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world getting to have these guys come in and talk to me. Don’t tell anybody! It’s a cheap way to get free trumpet lessons. Just do your own podcast. So, anyway, thank you Wayne for coming in. It just really, I can’t thank you enough. And for more information about Wayne, his tour schedule, his clinics, his master classes, his Yamaha model trumpet and of course his GR signature mouthpiece line. You can go to Wayne Bergeron dot com, all the pertinent information there and if you have trouble spelling it, you can also go to Bob Reeves dot com forward slash 18. That’s Bob Reeves dot com forward slash 18. You’ll find the show notes for this episode as well as all the links to get you to all the places you need to go about things we talked about in this episode. And if you want, tell us what your favorite part of this episode was or what you learned or a memorable story in the comment section, keep the conversation going and all that can be done at Bob Reeves dot com forward slash 18. Well, we’ve already gone on pretty long, so I’ll make this short, the usual business, please give us a five-star rating on iTunes. Find us on Facebook, find us on Twitter. I love hearing from you. Get an email or two just about every day with suggestions and thanks, and really, I honestly, it makes my day. we do this as a service to the trumpet community. And so knowing that you’re out there listening, couldn’t mean more to us. So thank you until next episode. Let’s go out and make some music.