Jazz Trumpet Player Ernie Hammes grew up in Esch/Alzette, Luxembourg, a small country between Belgium, France and Germany (population - 500,000). Ernie Hammes got his first trumpet when he was about 8 years old. Says Ernie, "Had to be the trumpet because at the time, at least here in Europe, they were pretty present on TV, not especially in jazz music but overall! My first teacher was actually an American musician by the name of Walter Perkins from Rochester, New York. At the time, Walter was a trumpet player with the National Symphony Orchestra here in Luxembourg. Unfortunately, he only spoke a little French besides English, so our communication was not happening too much! Somehow though, he managed to teach me some stuff for my future on the horn!
After a couple of years, my parents moved and that led me to go to my first Conservatory of Music, and my teacher for the next 10 years there was Mr. Joel Sand, a great guy and a superb teacher! Years later, in my twenties already, my interest in jazz music got bigger and I started to take lessons from several guys like Jon Faddis, Claudio Roditi, Ack Van Rooyen and I ended up at Manhattan School of Music in New York, for another 2 semesters with Lew Soloff, who I always admired because of his very versatile playing in classical, big band, salsa or jazz situations.
Ernie Hammes plays a Dave Monette Model B 973 custom trumpet that he has been playing for the last 10 years. Before that Ernie played a Schilke S22 and his first trumpet was a Boosey & Hawkes. Ernie uses a Monette B2 mouthpiece for classical and jazz playing and a Monette B6 for his lead playing. Ernie also plays a Yamaha Eb and Piccolo trumpet as well as a Yamaha 635ST Flugelhorn (for the last 15 years).
In teaching other trumpet players, I normally adapt to the needs of each student, because everybody is different. I normally start from scratch ... body position, embouchure, breathing, finger position, equipment, mouthpieces, what the guy has to play, what work needs to be done, vibrato, shakes, slurs, falls, timing, all the technical stuff, tone, it really depends on the musicians needs at the time.
Ernie continues, I joined the Luxembourg Army Concert Band (60 piece) in 1987, which gave me the opportunity to both do some traveling and touring as well as continue my studies abroad. I still play in that band and it's great to play new music everyday, to get your reading chops going even if there's not much happening constantly on the touring, freelance, and gigging side! My first serious jazz gig with a big name was a tour with Chaka Khan in Europe, followed by playing with Carla Bley, Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau Band, the Duke Ellington Band, Dizzy's Allstar Big Band (subbing for Hargrove ...Claudio Roditi hooked me up on that) and lately some tours with Paul Anka. I have my own band, and I am leading/playing the Luxembourg Jazz Orchestra.
"You probably know that Maynard's band used to always play in these fancy t-shirts with Maynards name and logo on it, right! Well, when we played my hometown with his band, Ed Sargent, the road-manager came up with the idea to dress the guys in t-shirts with my name on it!? (I had made some for merchandise purposes when I played with my own band), you can imagine Maynards funny look when he realized that and of course the audience went nuts! A much less funnier story was that I was supposed to get on Maynard's band by the end of September 2001. So everybody knows what happened back then on September 11th and of course it was just impossible for me to get to the United States then, and even more super-impossible to get my working visa!? Rich Willey jumped on then and I was able to join Maynard in the beginning of 2002.