Posts from 2017-01-07

My first flugelhorn: it’s all Guido Basso’s fault! by Rosemary


As a teenager just learning the trumpet, I had no real exposure to jazz, until someone suggested I check out big band music. So I trekked downtown to Sam the Record Man and bought The Jazz Album by Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass – yes, I’m dating myself, but I have to admit it was an LP. Songs like “Body and Soul” and “My Man Bill” were indeed intriguing – but my world changed when I heard Guido Basso’s gorgeous solo on “Portrait of Jenny.” It was so lush and so emotional, I knew that I wanted to play that kind of music.




Basso played this solo in his signature flugelhorn style – and even though I had no idea what a flugelhorn was, I wanted one. There was a darkness combined with a sweetness of tone that I knew I would never achieve on a trumpet (although Chet Baker came close). So, after much scrimping and saving from my $2.00-an-hour part-time job, I finally had the cash to order my first flugelhorn, and would spend the next three-plus decades listening to and playing big-band flugelhorn parts.




Over the years, I have enjoyed playing songs from the Boss Brass playlist, including the haunting “Close Enough for Love.” And I have played Christmas arrangements, show tunes, ballads and modern jazz on a series of flugelhorns. But whenever I do, I’m drawn back to my first experience with the flugelhorn, and to Guido Basso who has set the standard for this beautiful instrument.



I know I will never play with the virtuosity of Basso – who could? But I still have aspirations of one day playing “Portrait of Jenny,” the song that planted the seeds for my love of jazz, by the performer who inspired me to buy that weird, fat trumpet-like thing that is now a staple of horn sections in big bands everywhere. Thank you, Guido!