Wynton’s Blog

Christine Reed did so much to help me negotiate through very tough situations in my early days

I want to thank so many of my friends and collegues for responding to yesterday’s post. I know and remember so many of my collegues and friends for so many years and spent so many hours hearing them and loving their playing. It’s been a deep deep blessing.

I appreciate the long soulful email from Tony Gorruso taking me back to and through those days. I appreciate hearing from groove master Bruce Purse from Lester Bowie’s Hot trumpet days, my man “Big Tex” John Holt from Eastern Music Festival in the 70’s and so many more friends and members of the noble trumpet universe.

Yes, we all get nervous and “concerned” haha when we want to play better than we think we can. It’s a natural part of doing things for people from giving someone a Valentine’s in elementary school to cooking a meal for friends. You want to be good enough to lift or touch them in some way. That’s life and in this tough time we need to reach for each other even more. That’s why these responses were so meaningful to me.
I want to shout out the recent passing (from Covid) of my man, a trumpet king, teacher and brother of deep deep soul and feeling, Freddy Valles. We met in El Paso when I was playing with the Orchestra there in the early 80’s. He loved his students and he loved people, was a man of faith beloved by his family and all that knew him.

I received comments today from Christine Reed, (Vice-President of A&R for CBS Masterworks). She did so much to help me negotiate through very tough situations in my early days. I am always grateful to her and all of the time she spent making sure I was ok. These are her recollections:

“The creation of Wynton’s first and Grammy winning classical recording turned out to be quite an adventure. We chose to work with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, famous for their interpretations of the repertoire planned for the recording.

At the first rehearsal, Maestro Raymond Leppard and I both noticed that the orchestra was playing far beneath their capabilities. They were missing notes, playing out of tune and generally not paying attention to his leadership. They were rude and dismissive of Wynton. As the morning came to a close and they left for lunch, I talked to the woman managing the orchestra and asked her what was going on. Visibly embarrassed she responded that the orchestra was not used to having a conductor and they were not inclined to accept this young black jazz trumpet player.

When they returned from lunch and the rehearsal began it was clear that they had all been drinking and the result was that they sounded worse than they had in the morning. We collectively decided to end the rehearsal early and I told the orchestra manager that we would be leaving Prague.
I returned to our hotel, contacted our colleague in London and asked her to hire an orchestra, book Abbey Road Studios, and set up sessions for us to continue the recording there. With flights changed, we left the hotel to take an overnight flight to London.

When we arrived at the airport to leave Prague, there was a crowd of people waiting to see Wynton. He had originally planned to play at a local jazz club that evening but when word got out that we were leaving, members of the audience decided to show up at the airport instead. He proceeded to play an impromptu concert for them and happily gave lessons to those with their horns until our plane left. I’ll never forget his generosity in the face of what had been a very disappointing experience earlier that day.”

– Wynton

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