O.J.'s Trumpet Page Interview

FLEXUS - Trumpet calisthenics for the modern improvisor

Book cover

Interview with Laurie Frink (and John McNeil Note)

You have called the book "FLEXUS" - why that name?
Andrew Green, who designed the interior of the book came up with the name. Many of the exercises are aimed at improving flexibility and Flexus seemed like an appropriate title.

The other part of the title is "Trumpet calisthenics for the modern improvisor". What is trumpet calisthenics?
Calisthenics refers to exercises that help to prepare the body to play music. They are muscular demands, not musical. Your brain, heart and soul play music. The muscles of your body make the instrument function. Calisthenics address this muscular demand.

How did this book project start?
The original idea for this book began about 20 years ago. John and I have often discussed the lack of exercises that address the physical demands that are faced by an improvising musician

In the introduction you say: "FLEXUS synthesizes the teaching techniques of Laurie Frink, John McNeil and Carmine Caruso ".  Could you say something more about that?
John and I have both been teachers/performers for 30+ years and we both studied with Carmine Caruso. Caruso asked us to help his ideas continue to evolve and we have both tried to do that in our teaching.

Caruso was your teacher. What was it about him, a saxophone player teaching brass?
Caruso was a Master Teacher -- it didn't matter WHAT instrument he played!

A while ago I saw a person asking this: "Has anybody tried those real fancy lip bends in Frink/O'Neil FLEXUS? I can not get anywhere near the range she has on the bends, I can do the major seconds but the minor thirds are out of my reach." What can you say to this person?
It is not uncommon to practice an exercise for several months before being able to execute it freely and easily. He should continue gaining comfort on major seconds - and slow down - the thirds will come when they are ready. The exercises in Flexus are skill builders, not music. the benefits from exposing the body to the physical demand of the calisthenic will creep into your playing. How well you play an exercise is irrelevant

There is a demo CD, where you, Laurie, play some of the exercises, and you and John McNeil talk on tracks called "discussion". Any tips on how to take good advantage of the CD?
The cd is meant to clarify concepts by example and discussion. If someone is unclear how an exercise should be practiced, the answer is probably on the cd

How can people get this book/CD?

Laurie Frink: I answered all the questions and John agreed with my answers so had nothing to add.

About the Authors

Laurie Frink
Laurie Frink has been a freelance trumpet player in New York City since the 1970's. In addition to extensive recording work, she has played trum­pet with Benny Goodman, Gerry Mulligan, Mel Lewis, Maria Schneider, Andrew Hill, Dave Liebman and Kenny Wheeler. She is a member of the faculties of New York University The New School and the Manhattan School of Music.

John McNeil
John McNeil is a jazz trumpet player living in Brooklyn, New York. He has played with Horace Silver, Gerry Mulligan, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and many others. John has led his own groups since the late 1970's and has recorded many critically acclaimed CD's. He is also an active writer/producer on the New York jazz scene.

o.j. 2004