I heard the news driving home from a gig just a while ago. Fitting, I think.
What did I get from him? What did we all learn from him?
That our first responsibility was to the art of beautiful sound.
His playing and teaching life was devoted to creating beauty and teaching
other to find their own voice to create beauty. In essence, his legacy
is one of making this world a more beautiful place and insuring this for
I don't think I would have ever understood the art of the phrase if it weren't for his direction. He opened my eyes and ears to a world more wonderful and deep than most people are privileged to see or hear. After studying with him, I listened to all my favorite recordings for the first time anew. Then, I was able to learn why the greats were recognized as the greats. Not only trumpet, but horn (Dennis Brain - my favorite), voice, piano, organ, strings, the whole wonderful varied world of sound and art available to us.
Getting old was an inconvenience for him. When I spoke with him, he was always in great spirits but recognized that his body was giving out. His great joy and sorrow was that he just couldn't honor all the requests he was getting for lessons. His wife even commented that she couldn't even understand a lot of the people who called because of the accents - they were calling from all over the world wanting to come to Chicago to see him. He felt genuinely sorry that he just couldn't work that much any more.
After the Herseth tribute concert earlier this year where he was invited to take the stage in symphony hall once more, I called him. He was so ecstatic about playing again - about being in front of the crowd and part of music instead of part of the crowd. I could tell from the cheap seats that he was in heaven then, and I know for certain he is there now.
I feel very fortunate to know him and lucky to have taken lessons with him over the years. For those of you who had not the pleasure, it is one that cannot be gained from another because he was truly a unique human being, performer, artisan, and teacher. Rest in eternal peace my friend.