I figure that if you are going to read my blog, you deserve to know a little bit more about me and my musical experiences. I have been very fortunate to get to do what I love for a living, and to make music with some of the best musicians and entertainers in the world. I followed my passion in life, even though at times it was not the safest route!
My dad was my first teacher. He was a self taught player who worked his way through college playing in dance bands during the Great Depression. He got me started on the trumpet when I was 10 years old, but I had no formal lessons until my senior year in high school. I attended Paschal High School in Ft. Worth where the stage band had just won the National Championship for two consecutive years before I arrived. Playing trumpet next to John Thomas, the great trumpet player who currently teaches at USC, motivated me to want to be a professional musician in life, and he also taught me how to read and phrase jazz arrangements. As a senior, I won 1st place in an international Downbeat music competition, winning a scholarship to study at the Berklee School of Music for one summer term. I had already committed to go to Europe with the Ft. Worth Youth Orchestra, so I declined the offer. By the way, Pat Metheny came in third place in the competition, but he was only 16! I was in good company, however, and a playing career even more in my sights.
I went on to TCU where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Music Education because everyone told me “no one can make a living as a musician”. While at TCU, someone told me to go try out for a summer job at Six Flags playing in the Southern Palace Orchestra, which I got. So, at age 20, I had my first professional, steady gig playing 1st trumpet, which I kept for ten more years. By the time I moved on, I was the player/conductor of the Southern Palace Orchestra, in fact, the last one before they went to tape, the format they still use.
While working my way through college playing at Six Flags, and after graduating from TCU, I went to UNT where I earned my Master’s degree in Music Education, because everyone still told me “no one can make a living as a musician”. While there, I played second trumpet in the One O’Clock Lab Band to Chuck Schmidt in 1976, and 1st trumpet in 1977. Lab ’76 was nominated for a Grammy which was only the second nomination ever given to a college jazz band, with Lab ’75 being the first. It was a marvelous experience to play with those musicians and with Leon Breeden as director. He and I became good friends later in his life.
I have had four great trumpet teachers: Merlin Jenkins, Dr. Leonard Candelaria, John Haynie, and Don Jacoby “Jake”, who I accidentally ran into at a recording session in Dallas while I was at UNT. We were the two trumpets on the session, and after the session was over, I asked him some trumpet questions. That was the real turning point in my life.
Jake invited me over to his house for lessons, which resulted in a close relationship that lasted until he died. He decided I had the talent to play professionally and took me under his wing from then on. He believed that musical talent was God given, and he told me I needed to prove to God that He hadn’t made a mistake, and that I should be a player, which I did. Jake and my other teachers gave me what I wanted most in life—to be a musician, and helped me to get there and stay there.
I worked for 27 years as a full-time musician after college, mainly playing the traveling Broadway shows out of New York that would come to the Dallas Summer Musicals, and Casa Mañana, to a lesser degree. I was basically a freelance player who played shows, rodeos, Ice Capades, recording sessions, etc. The Dallas musicians were as good as musicians anywhere in the country, and it was a great experience working with them every night.
Over my career I performed on stage with: Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Mel Torme, Liza Minelli, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Burt Bacharach, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, The Spinners, Reba McEntire, Lou Rawls, Natalie Cole, Carol Lawrence, Red Skelton, Ann Margaret, Shirley MacLaine, Wayne Newton, Frank Sinatra Jr., Doc Severinsen, Louie Bellson, Pearl Bailey, Frankie Avalon, Vic Damone, Englebert Humperdinck, Roberta Flack, Dionne Warwick, Crystal Gayle, Bob Newhart, Bernadette Peters, Lena Horne, Marvin Hamlisch, B. J. Thomas, and Don Henley (maybe that will be a posted video sometime), just to name the ones who might still be known.
I retired in 2005 to start the Sherman Jazz Museum, once again ignoring the warnings from some. Our mission is education and preservation of jazz memorabilia. As of now, we house the estates of Maynard Ferguson and Roy Eldridge. Along the way we have also acquired trumpets owned by Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Harry James, Doc Severinsen, and Marvin Stamm, to name a few, plus the portable Wurlitzer piano owned by Duke Ellington in 1971.
We also have over 3,500 record albums in the museum, all of which were donated by good friends, such as Mark Taylor and the late Leonard Belota. Our website is www.shermanjazzmuseum.com. My wife, son, and daughter have helped put it together, also, and our daughter is the curator. I couldn’t have done this without them!
That’s my quick story, As time goes by, I’ll be telling more stories about my past and how we collected certain things for the museum. Each item has its own story, and we are very lucky to have found what we have found in such a short amount of time. We opened in 2010, and are usually open on Saturdays from 1-5.