Freelance Trumpet Player Peter Olstad of Denver, Colorado
Luis Miguel Trumpet Player Pete Olstad of Denver, Colorado lived in Southern California for the first 12 years of his life. Trumpet Player Pete Olstad relates, "We lived in the San Fernando Valley in North Hollywood. My mother was a piano teacher, church organist and choir director. I started playing trumpet at about the age of 9. My father happened to have a old army bugle in the closet and one day I took it out and started to play it. I found that I could get a pretty decent sound out of it right from the start, and for some reason it appealed to me. My parents recognized that I had some degree of proficiency on the bugle and asked me if I would like to try a trumpet. They found a rental horn and a music store that had a trumpet teacher. My first teacher was Henry Miranda, a Los Angles based trumpet player. His teacher was Rafael Mendez. I would always hear stories of this great trumpet player Rafael Mendez and until I first heard a recording of him, didn't really know what all the fuss was about. That first recording I heard of him changed my life forever. I wasn't really fanatical about playing at that time. It was something I could do and sound half-way decent doing. I used to have to get my trumpet out for the relatives during the holidays and play for them. It was always like pulling teeth to get me to play in front of people.
My family moved to Denver Colorado when I was 13, and we settled in a little town west of Denver called Evergreen. It was there I met and played for Bob Montgomery at Evergreen High School. Bob was the music teacher at Evergreen, and a trumpet player involved in the Denver music scene. Bob really changed my life and the way I looked at the trumpet. He really turned it into a passion and a lifelong profession for me.
When I came to Bob, he noticed that I was putting the top rim of the mouthpiece on the red part of my top lip. He suggested that I move the mouthpiece up to the top so that I would have a ratio of about 60% top lip, 40% bottom lip on the mouthpiece. This turned out to be a pivotal point in my playing development. From then on my endurance and range continued to grow.
I also started listening to the many record albums that Bob would bring into the band office during the day, sometimes well into the night as well. I listened to Clifford Brown, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Clark Terry, Roy Eldrige, Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, and many more artist. I would sit in the band office and play along with the records, trying to recreate the sound of whoever was on the turntable at the time. I had the great opportunity to meet Bill Chase, Clark Terry, Cat Anderson, Conte Candoli and Tony Klatka when I was in high school. These trumpet players set a very high bar for me to try and reach at a early age.
After high school I went to Berklee in Boston for a few years, did quite a bit of playing in Boston, and finished at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, a few miles north of Denver. I had the good fortune to study with the great trumpet player and teacher William Pfund. I also played in the UNC Lab 1 Big Band under the direction of Dr. Gene Aikten. I tell people that this band was tighter and more musical than most professional bands I have worked with since. Gene had such a gift for getting results and got the most out of every player in his bands.
I went on the road with Buddy Rich in 1981, leaving school for New York City, and spent most of the 1980's in different road bands. I was out with Buddy Morrow and the Tommy Dorsey band, Glenn Miller for a brief tour of Japan, and the Russ Morgan Band under the direction of Jack Morgan. I also spend some time in New Orleans playing dixieland on the Mississippi Queen steamboat. I moved to Los Angles in 1985, and spend the next decade freelancing in the Los Angles area. In 1988, I met Wayne Bergeron and was recommended by him to Maynard Ferguson for a section position in Maynard's 60th Birthday Big Band Tour. The trumpet section was comprised of Wayne Bergeron, Roger Ingram and myself. We did an 8 week tour of the United States, and a record album shortly thereafter.
That next year, Maynard called and asked me to join the newly formed Big-Bop Noveau Band with the 5 horn formation. I toured the world for the next 2 and a half years with him. To this day it was the most fun I have ever had on stage. Maynard was all about the music and having a good time making it. My first rehearsal with the band I remember him saying, "If you are going to make a mistake. make it big, and then forget about it." That stayed with me. If you worry about making a mistake, you are not going to play the way you should.
In 1999, I was hired by Tom Jones and played lead trumpet for Tom for 9 years. We did several world tours, a DVD, and countless weeks at the MGM in Las Vegas. I figured out that I spent close to a year and a half of my life in an MGM hotel room!"
Over the 30 plus years that Pete has spent playing trumpet and trying to learn how to be better at it, Pete has studied with many different trumpet teachers. Pete's teachers over the years have been as follows; Bob Montgomery, Ray Kowtwica, Ray Copeland, Carmine Caruso, William Pfund, William Vacchiano, Bobby Shew, Uan Racey, Bobby Findley, George Graham, Charley Davis, Roy Stevens, and James Grafmeyer. Quite a line up !
Pete relates, "They all have given me different insights on how to play certain things. I have learned something from them all." Pete states, "Confidence in playing is a direct product of being prepared for whatever might come your way in any given playing situation. Learning as many different styles, sight reading many different styles, and being ready physically for whatever might come your way is crucial for a good performance."
One trumpet method that Pete has consistently used over the years is The Louis Maggio System For Brass. Pete relates, "This is a good starting off point for students to learn how to play efficiently. I really don't endorse one system over another however. I like how my chops feel after doing the warm-up and I also like doing chromatic scales at a very soft volume. This seems to "set" my chops for just about anything that might come my way. Also I like to practice in the high register very, very soft. To really find the note via soft playing will make playing at a louder volume much more stable. I also like working out of the Arban's Complete Conservatory Method For Trumpet and Max Schlossberg's Daily Drills For Trumpet books as well."
Pete Olstad plays on a Schilke B6 from 1973 "with low mileage." He is also currently performing on a custom Giardinelli piece by Greg Black.
Trumpet Player Peter Olstad's Discography
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