Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Posts tagged “Richard Bissill

Horns gone crazy

Endlessly rehearsing “Parisina“, an obscure opera by Donizetti, has taken its toll on these poor fellows in the London Philharmonic Orchestra horn section.

Just look at them, the poor devils: from left to right it’s Martin Hobbs, Neil Shewan, Gareth Mollison and Richard Bissill.

I was lucky – I got to play in the stage band so I only had a total of two minutes of very easy music to play. The orchestral horns had scarcely a single bar off in the whole opera, and it was all very difficult and exposed.

The only one of them not showing symptoms of madness was Richard …and he’s the craziest of them all.

Humble John

I’m becoming a bit frustrated by not getting enough study time. We are on holiday and the kids need occupying, taking out, playing with etc. for many hours each day. On top of that I have get my horn chops working because I’ve a couple of hard gigs at the end of the week, in Germany and Italy with London Brass.

As usual with that crowd it’s a whole new pad of pieces (to me) and I have precisely three and a hours of rehearsal time in which to learn how to play Richard Bissill’s stupendously difficult horn parts. 

The scraps of trumpet practice I have managed in the last few days have been on arpeggios and scales. I really need to start learning some standards and trumpet solos from recordings.

I’ve been running quite a lot (something else which shortens my available practice time) and I always listen to music on minidisc as I run. Due to a mix up last week I found I had inadvertently kept a disc which John Barclay lent me. After an hour or so of listening I found he had recorded it in LP mode, which means you can cram more music on the disc. He had used not just LP mode, but LP4 mode, which give an available 300 minutes (5 hours!) of music on just one disc. The quality is not so good but it’s really not bad – and certainly good enough for the vintage jazz recordings which John had copied. I didn’t even notice the poor sound as I was running.

The amazing thing is that John has recorded himself playing along with some of the tracks, so every now and again another trumpet player pops up – in a different sound, in a different acoustic. John, a closet jazzer, is very good! He’s got a wonderful sound, a great feel for jazz harmony and bags of style. What’s funny about it is that even though, I guess, he recorded the stuff on his own at his home without any idea that someone else might one day listen to it, he still sounds apologetic, as if he’s poking his head around a door and saying, “hello? does anyone mind if I just squeeze in here and play along with you guys – just a few quiet twiddles – don’t mind me, I’m only messing about…”

Such a superb musician – he’s obviously going to be a great jazzer – but curiously such a humble soul. John also happens to be one of the funniest people I have ever met.

John and I have a plan to spend some time together thrashing out some jazz. I’m expecting to learn a lot from him …though I can’t imagine he’ll learn anything from me.