Trumpet Player Michael Mossman of New York City grew up in Ridley, Pennslyvannia Southwest of the Philly Airport in a blue-collar neighborhood not noted (at that time) for the arts. They have a fine Jazz program now, though. All the kids leaving 2nd grade were encouraged to take up a band instrument. Michael wanted to play the guitar, but his parents were afraid he would become a Hippy (it was the 60's!) Michaels arms were too short for the trombone, so the trumpet became a natural fit for Michael. Oddly, Michael's grandfather had always called him "Satchmo," from the time he was an infant! Michael started private trumpet lessons very late. Michael had played in band since the 3rd grade, but didn't like the lessons (especially the music) and quit. Michael taught himself to play by listening to the radio and taping (reel to reel) things that had a trumpet in them. There was WRTI from Temple University that played jazz. (Michael didn't know it was jazz, just that it had trumpet in it!) Michael played along and learned to play by ear. Michael did not learn to read music until he was 15 years old. When Michael attended a jazz workshop, encouraged by a friend, Michael found he could improvise and play in the right style. Michael's clinic director was Trumpet great Marvin Stamm, from New York City, who encouraged Michael to get some private trumpet lessons. Michael started studying private trumpet with Don Ramos in Chester, Pennslyvannia, who had been trumpet player Marcus Belgrave's teacher. Don encouraged Michael to go to college for music. He also got Michael into a local rehearsal band, which gave Michael a chance to play big band jazz with professional players every week. Michael played all the stock charts and did some gigs and was very excited about the whole thing. Later, Michael had the opportunity to go to Europe with the American Youth Jazz Orchestra, directed by Hal Schiff, a noted teacher from Wilmington, Delaware.
Trumpet Player Michael Mossman arrived in Chicago having no idea how to find work. Michael walked around town with his trumpet in a plastic bag as he lived in a tough neighborhood and people were getting ripped off left and right on the buses and subways. One night a trumpeter in a jazz club told Michael he'd been fired from a gig with a Latin band, but that he thought Michael could do the gig. He told Michael just to show up at rehearsal next day. Michael did, dressed in his trench coat and with a long parcel under his arm in a bag not knowing the place was run by a convicted killer. When Michael showed up asking for him, panic ensued, until Michael said, "my name is Michael Mossman and I just graduated from college and I want to sit in." The musicians were on the floor laughing, but Michael got the gig and that was his start.
With some income ($50/night for 6 sets, 7 on Saturday night) Michael was able to keep going. There was a band of the better-situated musicians working at the Wise Fools Pub on Monday nights. Michael went there week after week hoping to sit in, but was refused each time. Finally, one night a trumpet player was late and Michael asked to sit in. The band leader said no, but the bari sax player, Ron Kolber said, over his half moon specs, "Aw let the kid play!" Classic! Anyway, they did and there was a solo in Michaels part. After they finished the chart, the bandleader announced Michael as the newest member of the band. The musicians in that group helped Michael find work all over town.
While at a jazz festival, Michael met Bill Fielder, who taught many excellent trumpeters, such as Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Sean Jones, and Terrell Stafford. He had also studied with Vince Cichowicz and he and Michael hit it off. Next thing Michael knew, Michael had a scholarship to Rutgers University for grad school and was back on the east coast. Many of the students Michael was there with became serious jazz musicians. They sat in with Art Blakey, Jon Faddis, Wynton's band and anyone else who was kind enough to support young musicians.
Trumpet Player Michael Mossman states, "Anything I can do on the trumpet now is the result of my teacher's hard work, patience and generosity in showing me many things. The most important of those came from Vincent Cichowicz and the Chicago School on one hand, and Jon Faddis advice on building strength. These are both very simple (but not easy) concepts. No over-analysis, just making sure the air moves freely and with intensity, even when playing softly. Having a clear concept of the sound you want as well as the musical interpretation you intend are essential, as is good posture and breathing habits. I think that my best teaching work has come from developing techniques of applying these fundamental concepts to advanced jazz techniques. I always seek to bridge the gap between brass playing concepts and jazz technique as far as flexibility, range and harmonic/linear content."
Michael Mossman continues, "When I came back East to grad school, I rebuilt my embouchure from scratch, largely as a result of seeing Freddie Hubbard and Adolph Herseth play with completely unobstructed air streams. I had taught myself to play with my lower lip rolled over my teeth, making a free air stream impossible and resolved to correct that or move on to something else professionally. It took 3 years, largely due to my continuing to play (and record for Blue Note!) during the transition a very stressful time, but ultimately worth it both in results and teaching insights. I recommend the same trumpet method books I studied from including Arban's Complete Conservatory Method For Trumpet, Max Schlossberg Daily Drills For Trumpet, Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies, Irons, Walter Smith, Charlier, St. Jacomb's Grand Method For Trumpet but with customizations and exercises based on the above, expanded to include a greater range of harmonic and rhythmic content."