Trumpet Player Barry Danielian of New York City grew up in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. During the winter months it was a ghost town; however, during the summer it was a big tourist vacation spot not unlike the Jersey Shore. Trumpet Player Barry Danielian started playing guitar at age 6! Barry's uncle played and sang so he got Barry excited about learning music. There was always music in Barry's home growing up. Barry's dad was a fan of classical music and both his parents loved Big Band music. Whenever there were family gathering, especially of the Armenian side, there was live music guys playing Dumbek and Oud doing traditional middle-eastern music. Barry was always fascinated.
Barry Danielian started playing the trumpet at age eight. He would watch TV variety shows and see Louis Armstrong and Al Hirt playing. There was something about the sound of the trumpet that really grabbed a hold of Barry. His Dad was playing a lot of Stan Kenton around the house and the Brassy sound of his band had an effect on Barry. Barry relates, "I fell in love with the trumpet and my love of music deepened as well. During 4th grade, I had a setback which in hindsight was a blessing, I got braces! This made it very difficult and painful to play trumpet. My band director proceeded to teach me Baritone, Trombone and I even dabbled with Tuba and French Horn. He really got me focused on being a good musician regardless of what instrument I played. We worked on sight-reading a lot and learning about all the other instruments. Eventually the braces came off and I re-focused on the trumpet."
Barry Danielian's first trumpet teacher was Mr.Coombs his band director. Says Barry, "Mr. Coombs could play every instrument and he was very "old school" in terms of discipline. He was incredibly encouraging and would always play Doc Severinson records for me! He would say "now that is a trumpet player!" My general music teacher who was probably my most influential teacher was Mrs. Nudd. She would play me records of Bach, Stravinsky, Miles Davis, Jimmie Hendrix pretty much everything. In hindsight ... my love of writing, producing and mixing came from her. She really taught me how to listen and made me realize that music was about connecting with other people. I was just constantly practicing and listening as much as I could. When I got to 8th grade Mr.Coombs told me that he couldn't take me any further with trumpet and he would send me to someone who could. I started studying with Mr. Goldsmith and we got very seriously into Arban's Complete Conservatory Method For Trumpet ... Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies For Cornet and Max Schlossberg's Daily Drills and Technical Studies For Trumpet. He was really training me in Classical pedagogy but I discovered Clifford Brown, Miles and Freddie. That's how I wanted to play ... don't we all !!
I started gigging by time I was in high school. Playing in my Chorus directors pop band, learning how to sing parts, sitting in on jam sessions. Looking back on it that is where my split musical personality started. On the one hand, I wanted to be a jazz player but I also loved playing in horn sections playing R&B and Funk ... singing and just the whole vibe of being part of a band. By my junior year in High School, I knew I needed to go somewhere else and be challenged so I applied to Berklee School of Music and got accepted. Talk about getting my but kicked!! I was used to being the best player in my little town. The first trumpet player I heard at Berklee was Wallace Roney. I remember thinking "God if everybody plays like this, I don't have a chance." I knocked on his practice room door and we hit it off immediately. He really helped me to get an understanding of the jazz trumpet lineage, what records to listen to etc. I could play my horn, but really didn't know anything about jazz. Soon thereafter, I met Branford Marsalis. He was also very helpful in teaching me about the same lineage in jazz in general. Up until that point I had been listening in a very scattered way. Some Brecker Brothers, some 60's Miles ... some of this some of that. He hipped me to the continuum of the music. After that, I started studying the music in a more logical way. There were so many great players at Berklee at that time so I really grew a lot. The great thing about Berklee for me was that I could be playing with all these heavy jazz players one night, the next night I'm playing with all these heavy funk players and Latin players etc. The breath of music that was happening was incredible and at a very high level. When I think back on all the great musicians converging at Berklee at that time it was really amazing. It was literally a who's who of the music industry.
I left Boston and wanted to go to NYC to start my career. My parents being first generation Americans wouldn't hear of it. I had to finish College and get the degree. I had heard that Rufus Reid was running a jazz program in New Jersey and it was 20 miles from New York City. That solved my problem. I transferred to William Paterson College in 1982 and finished my degree there. It was a completely different vibe from Berklee. Much smaller jazz program, really focused specifically on jazz. No R&B,Funk etc; but it was a college campus. It was more chilled and I did like that. I also studied philosophy, comparative religion. I was on the school Kickboxing team. It felt more like a school and less like the music business. While this was going on during the day, at night I would be in the city going to jam sessions and getting my but kicked. I also started making inroads into the scene. I was playing in the Latin/Jazz big band at the college and the guest artist that semester was Luis "Perico" Ortiz. I didn't know who he was so a friend made me a tape of his music. Wow! He was a great trumpet player but he also had clearly checked out some jazz because he had harmonic awareness that was more sophisticated than most of the Latin players at that time. He also wrote and arranged. It just so happened that his trumpet player was leaving the band right at that time. He heard me play and offered me the gig. I didn't know it at the time but his band was the hottest Salsa band in New York City. Almost immediately I was gigging every night. I met so many great musicians in that scene who have remained some of my closest friends and I really fell in love with the music and the culture. We would often play Monday nights at the Village Gate which was Salsa meets Jazz. It was on those gigs that I got to play with Dizzie Gillespie, Benny Golson, Paquito DeRivera, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker. I got exposure not only playing lead in the section but Perico was always very generous in giving me space to blow as well. That went on for a few years and I got to play with Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto as well as doing a lot of recording work in that scene. Just as a side note ... some of the best trumpet players I've ever worked with are in that scene. Hector "Bomberito" Zarzuela, Ite Jerez, Charlie Sepulveda, David "Piro" Rodriguez, Juancito Torres, Raul Agraz. None of these guys are household names per se but they are world class trumpet players and I learned so much from playing with them.
Trumpet Player Barry Danielian has been very fortunate to have studied with some awesome trumpets teachers including Louis Mucci, Jeff Stout, David Rogers, Carmine Caruso, Vince Penzarella,
Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, James Pandolfi, Victor Paz, and Bob McCoy. Says Barry, "What I learned from each of them is that you are always your best teacher!! They each provided me with different diagnostic tools and different ways to think about solving problems. My approach has always been about making things as musical as possible. Having a beautiful sound (which can be aesthetically adjusted to suit the genre), Great time feel and musical phrasing. The best players always make everyone around them play better because it feels natural and musical. I'm not into being a trumpet machine note hitter. The type of player who plays like a machine, never misses but never makes music. Obviously, we all try to be as accurate as possible. But to me, if there's no music, no feel, no swing ... what good is it? It's always about the music.
Trumpet Player Barry Danielian auditioned for Blood, Sweat and Tears in 1984 and got the gig. Barry was thrilled as he was a big fan as a kid. Relates Barry, " I was very nervous because Lew Soloff set the bar so high. The Lead trumpet book was hard but also all the jazz and piccolo trumpet was in the lead book. Once again I was in a situation where I had to wear a few different hats. I continued to tour with BS&T for three years. Doing that gig in some ways puts you into a certain lineage in New York City because so many of the top level players in town came through that band. At the same time I was doing sessions and starting to get some buzz about my horn section writing and continuing to do gigs with Eddie Palmieri, Mowtown bands etc. I did a brief stint with SouthSide Johnny and the Jukes. That gig kinda placed me into the Jersey Shore rock scene. I got a chance to play with Jon BonJovi (a really great cat) Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven. Those guys were very soulful musicians and like the Latin bands they didn't hold back. It was about going for the jugular every night. I was continuing to build my reputation as a guy that could play lead and play jazz. Also being able to arrange and put together great horn sections was helping to get me work.
In 1990, my friend Bob Franceschini called me about doing a tour with a Latin Pop star named Emmanuel. He wanted a New York band and our friend Arturo Ortiz was going to be musical director. When Bobby told me who was going to be in the band it was a no-brainer. Not only was the band made up of some of the baddest players but most of them were "my boys!" I had no idea at the time but Emmanuel was a huge, huge pop star. We were playing stadium tours all over Latin America. It was like being stars, we had security bring each of us from the stage door to the limo ... screaming women the whole nine! It was nuts and admittedly fun. I toured with Emmanuel for three years and ended up being his musical director for the last year. Right before the last 6 weeks of my commitment to him I got a call from Tower of Power's manager asking me if I wanted to audition. Unfortunately, I had to finish out my commitment and told their manager that I couldn't just bail on Emmanuel. She understood and appreciated my integrity. I told her that if things didn't work out to please keep me on file because I would love to play with Tower of Power. In my mind, it was over but 4 month later she called back. Apparently, it wasn't working out with whoever they hired and would I be into coming out to audition. Of coarse I booked my ticket and got ready for the audition. Long story short, I along with 15 other cats auditioned and I got the gig. Bill Churchville and I were the trumpet section for three years. We had a great time playing together. Bill is such an awesome trumpet player and our styles really complimented each other. We both could play lead and play jazz so we split everything up. People ask how we decided who would play lead on what chart? We knew each others playing so well that we would usually do it based on the style of the chart. There was never any trumpet ego bullshit. We had each others back and played with each other not against each other. I'm very proud of how we sounded and I think the 2 CD's we did with Tower of Power certainly uphold the high lever set by all of our predecessors.
By the end of my third year with Tower of Power, I had been on the road for nearly 16 years. I was getting burned on road life and leaving my wife and two daughters was becoming unbearable. I had recorded some tracks on Paul Simon's "Capeman" CD and subsequently got asked to play in the Broadway show. This was a way for me to leave the road and keep the bills paid. I did one final European tour with Tower of Power and that was the end of that chapter. Tower of Power is held in such high regard by musicians that when I got off the road, and got back into the New York City scene, I was in a whole different echelon. I was very busy doing sessions and arranging. To date I've played on over 250 CD's tons of jingles, films etc.. My friend David Mann also encouraged me to get a home studio setup and start working on a solo project. I took some time but I put out my first CD in 2004. I also have been doing some production work as well as writing music cues for TV-Cable-etc for several companies. (NOTE: See Barry's website for a full listing of bands he has performed with as well as a complete discography.)
As far as practicing goes. I went through years of constant obsessive practice and I think everyone has to do that at some point. I don't practice like that now. It's really a physical consideration for me. If I have a 6 hour session playing lead, I can practice for 3 hours and expect to feel fresh. If I'm working, I have an hour routine that includes warming up and covering all the bases. I can be warmed up and ready to hit in 5 minutes if I have to ... sometimes you're in that situation. I don't think it's wise to be a slave to your warm up. If I don't have a gig on a particular day, I'll play throughout the day. Play for an hour, work in the studio mixing or something, play some more, work out for a while, play some tunes etc. I'm pretty much a stream of consciousness when it come to practicing, I like to mix it up. Like athletic training, varying the stimulus promotes growth. That's what works for me but every one is different and you have to discover what works for you! I'm a big believer in fundamentals! Getting deeper and deeper into fundamentals. Ease of sound production in all registers - air moving all the time -playing everything as if your performing with mental focus and hearing your ideal sound in your head. You have to connect with your "inner ear." Hearing how you want to sound will facilitate you sounding that way. I do teach occasionally and would love to get into doing clinics but haven't pursued it.
Trumpet Player Barry Danielian has been playing a Calicchio 1S2 Professional Model Trumpet for nearly 20 years. Says Barry, "I love the fact that I can get a dark sound or can get it to sizzle. The response is very quick which is essential for horn section playing. They also record great. When you hear playback, you hear the difference. I play a custom Dave Monette Prana mouthpiece. Dave copied my Bach 3c trumpet mouthpiece and did his "thing!" I think Dave is a genius and has tremendous insight into trumpet playing. I have 2 versions of my Barry Danielian Custom mouthpiece. One I play almost 90% of the time the other is slightly shallower in the event that the volume is really loud. I can get a bit more sizzle without killing myself. I started out as a jazz player who learned to play lead! I love bigger mouthpieces! I play a Couesnon Fluglehorn ... pure cream and butter! I use Ultra Pure Valve Oil and Tuning Slide Lub. It's an awesome product. I have tons of mutes. You can never have too many. I think I have 6 or 7 straight mutes. Some mutes sound great on one track but not on another. You want options in the studio. I have a home studio consisting of a Mac Computer - Logic Pro Audio - tons of software instruments - Preamps - Royer R121 ribbon mic-various other mics. I can do everything with the exception of live drums in my house.