From 1993 to '96 I played guitar in the Frank Trompeter Group. Frank on tenor saxophone, trumpet, guitar bass and drums. His idea for the group was to play jazz from the 60's, the Mercy Mercy Mercy era as it were. Personally, I may well have picked another decade if I were to specialize like that, but nonetheless it was a very nice playing opportunity. Lotsa gigs in those three years, and even a trip to Japan in 1995.
We were one of three groups from Springfield to get to go over for a week to Ashikaga, which is Springfield's Sister City. You had the option of staying with a host family or on your own at one of the Hotels. I opted for the host family. 3 generations of Japanese: a man, age 60; his wife, age 55; their son, age 30; his wife, same age; their sons, age 4 and 6. They owned a department store, of which they occupied one level. Space is at a premium over there, as you can imagine.
1996 is another big year for me, as that's the year I closed on my house. March 1st, to be exact. A jubilant day for me. Had a gig that afternoon as I remember, a great way to cap off a great day. That year I also parted ways with the Frank Trompeter Quintet. No big fights or anything, he wanted to use a piano player and I wanted to have my own group. So it was really mutual. In the ensuing years, Frank and I have worked together in different musical projects and he's called me to sub with his groups. It's all good. we didn't close the door, just sort of left it ajar.
The following year brought about my very first CD, The Sam Crain Trio. All standards, except for a couple solo guitar pieces for a girl I'd been seeing. It was originally intended as just a demo to give to clubowners and the like, but after listening back I thought it to be CD-worthy.The Sam Crain Trio hasn't exactly sold a million copies but it has sold in a million locations. I still notify the guys who played with me on the CD when we get a new sale, particularly from an 'exotic' location. The last one was Belarus.
So in the wake of the Frank Trompeter group, I was a free agent. Doing my own gigs, but finding it difficult to get the same people every time out, since the gigs were so sporadic. And then I did something straight out of The Fabulous Baker Boys: I hired a girl singer. She didn't look like Michelle Pfeiffer(actually more like Suzanne Somers, at least in the face), but still petite blonde and cute. Voila! We had gigs. Thus I was able to stabilize the personnel, down to the same bass player and two different drummers. The guy pictured here is still with me.
Amy was with the group in '98 and '99. The latter year saw some 'creative differences' emerge. She ended up leaving the group to form her own(called Chakra- listed on my Fun Facts page under Bands I've Played or Subbed With)- and like Frank Trompeter, ended up hiring me on occasion. It's all good.
This was about the time I first visited New York City, and was there three years in a row. I'd been through twice before, but not with any time to look around. And there is SO much to see in Manhattan.Don't get me started..
My second year visiting there I took a guitar lesson with a great jazz player named Joshua Breakstone. I'd met him some years back when he played in Springfield. The kind of player you hear who makes you look at your own playing and go, "man, I SUCK!"-and then go home and start practicing your ass off. So I think as well as wanting to get a lesson in, to hear what he'd have to say as far as improving my playing, I just plain wanted him to hear me.(I'd been practicing my ass off..)
He made a few suggestions, and then we played tunes for a couple hours.Didn't even charge me for the session. My third year in New York I got to pay another visit, and we got in some more guitar playing.Great player. I was flattered that each of the times I got to play with him, something I played elicited a "funny look". Or maybe I was just screwing something up...
I haven't been back to New York since then, despite several efforts, but have kept in touch with Joshua. His wife Nathalie is quite an artist, and has designed several of my CD covers.