I met Rafael Méndez  - Clyde Hunt

Rafael Méndez and Clyde Hunt
(click to see a larger image)

I had the great pleasure of encountering the Magnificent Méndez,  not once but TWICE!

The man was absolutely gracious, both onstage and in private. And yes, as principal cornet, I received the (I suppose) obligatary 20 or so minute private lesson. At the close of the rehearsal the real fun began.  He gave verbal instructions to all sections of the band, as to which notes to play for an inprovised accompaniment for the CARNIVAL of VENICE session. He, of course, played most of the variations which you and I know - and then began the impromptu Mendez variations.  Anyone with doubts about this man's ability to IMPROVISE - simply should have been there!

The very next year Méndez returned to Kent State University.  But this year when he "sent ahead" the music, there was a selection with which  I was not familiar. But I learned it because I practiced all of the music (solos) with the band, everyday.

To make a long story shorter, that "extra" piece was sent along for me to play, with the band, at the evening concert. The upshot -  I had another lesson with the Master, and got to play "that" solo, while Mr. Méndez conducted!!

Suffice it to say, that  11 X 14  on the wall,  of "Rafael and Me"  is to this day, one of my great treasures.  And that concert, as a nineteen -year - old, isn't a half bad memory, either.

Thanks for listening