Paul Cacia Interview
Paul Cacia Interview
- August 2003
I've often found that
Maynard fans are fans of many other trumpet players. For most of us, Paul
Cacia is on that list. His range, technique, expressiveness, and powerful
sound on the trumpet are thrilling. Mr. Cacia has been a friend to this
site, offering up some rare memorabilia, and when I asked him if he wouldn't
mind answering a few questions for this page he generously accepted.
- Let's start
with your musical background. Can you tell us about your musical education?
At the age of ten, after three years of serious piano and trumpet
studies at St. Catherine's Military Academy with the Dominican Nuns,
I was accepted as the youngest of protégés to the great
Claude Gordon, and studied with him for 7 years. Claude often asked
me to accompany him in many of his "live" clinics to play
and perform. I owe my career and early prowess to this beloved man.
I had a double C by the age of 13 and was tutored in the stoic and disciplinary
fashion of his teacher, Herbert L. Clarke. Claude at that time would
perform along with me during many of my exercises his presence was so
powerful as he had only retired professionally a few years earlier.
He approached my trumpet studies as if he were preparing me in the same
manner to become a world-class concert pianist, like his son Steven
Gordon, the world champion of the Tchaikovsky competition in Russia.
I spent my summers at Big Bear Lake and studied at his home, the balance
of the year traveling an hour and half each way to Woodland Hills every
Tuesday night. My lesson was from 11 PM to Midnight.
Claude had played many early cylinder recordings of the great cornet
soloists such as Bohumir Kryl who possessed high G's, double pedal C's,
circular breathing as well as masterful phrasing and double and triple
tonguing at the turn of the last century. Might I add, all played on
an oval shaped, hand-carved wooden mouthpiece, performed on cornet.
I studied and
worked, at length, with "Cat" Anderson and John Madrid.
I also took a few lessons from Bud Brisbois, Glenn Stuart, Jimmy Stamp,
Don Fehrer and John Audino.
I was also privileged
to have attended many "live" clinics with many remarkable
players at a time when they were serious in their thoughts and formation
of clear and concise answers. This would include artists such as,
Maurice Andre, Adolph Herseth, Maynard Ferguson, Bud Brisbois, and
- Based on your
style of trumpet playing, one might assume that Maynard's music was
influential to your style. Is this assumption correct, and what other
musicians have been inspirations for you?
There is no question
that Maynard was among my pivotal early influences, however I would
like to make the distinction that I emulated him as a young pupil and
did not mimic him. The difference is as significant as the difference
between a compliment and an insult. As you progress in your musical
stature and prowess, ultimately your search is for a valid voice all
your own, as well as a musical genre and quality that is unique enough
to set yourself apart in such a way that pays tribute without down right
copying. This is no easy task when you take into account that I consider
him the father of the modern trumpet. Within recent history for those
of you old enough to remember just prior to Maynard, Harry James had
such an effect. I am speaking in terms of the overall general public,
completely excluding all the other great, significant, exponential contributors
to the early, middle and post contributors of the jazz age. I set for
an example the Jimmy Dorsey recording of the "Rhapsody In Blue"
where even Maynard himself emulated a "James" style vibrato,
although an octave higher.
I only heard and
met Gozzo once his concept is the archetype as a lead player. John
Madrid who studied with Goz was able to share much of his style and
secrets, as we roomed together for almost a year on the road. Players
I had the privilege of sitting next to and working with were Pete
Candoli, Zeke Zarchy, Shorty Sherock, Ray Linn, Buddy Childers, and
my personal favorite Al Porcino. These experiences are burned into
my consciousness, their phrasing, taste and style. As far as I'm concerned
they wrote the book on lead playing, they made it an art form. As
far as inspiration, I must also include Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen.
- You are known
for your amazing range on the trumpet. Who blows your mind in terms
Fortunate to have grown up on the West Coast, my first thoughts
are of the first time I heard "Cat" Anderson live with the
Charlie Barnet and Duke Ellington Bands playing "Birth of the Blues",
Bud Brisbois, performing "Jesus Christ Superstar", as well
as his work with his own band, Louis Valizon with Tommy Vig's orchestra,
and to say the least, the great John Madrid, I also loved Bill Chase's
lead work on Woody Herman's band as well as his solo albums. I am by
design excluding those prior to the 1960's and post 1980's for a specific
reason. The players I've mentioned above, Cat, Bud, and Madrid had registers
well into the triple C range at any time during a performance they only
used it, if it was appropriate. It might be the last note of the night,
but only if asked upon by the leader, consistent with the choice of
material and most important if they had the lead part, or the first
trumpet player, conceded to the leaders intentions. They took care of
business first when they played lead and used their upper register tastefully.
I must also say I've heard Doc nail an Eb above double C live. I've
heard Maynard play triple C's live and for sheer excitement, sound and
sizzle Maynard is remarkable!
- When did you
decide to play trumpet for a living? And how did you break into the
There was never any doubt I was to make my career as a professional.
I have always felt a predisposition that I was to be a trumpet player.
I first left on the road at age 16, playing parts written originally
for Gozzo, I subbed for "Sweets" Edison on the Louie Bellson
Big Band, then Bob Hope, Cat Anderson's Orchestra, subbed on the Don
Ellis Orchestra, the Stan Kenton Collegiate Neophonic with Stan's consent
and recorded my first major label duet with Stevie Wonder by 17. I was
mentored, subbing in rehearsals and then sent in on gigs for John Madrid,
Bud Brisbois, John Audino, and even Cat Anderson. Claude Gordon, Stan
Kenton and especially Louie Bellson were influential in getting me started.
I opened for "Chicago" at age 21 with my own band and first
solo album release. However, to answer your question, I remember vividly
seeing Al Hirt live in 1968, and decided that was it. It was ten years
later, I was playing lead trumpet for Ray Anthony when "Jumbo"
called from New Orleans and said he was forming his own big band. Before
I could even say a word he told me he'd pay me triple what Ray was plus
all expenses to play lead trumpet for him, needless to say I left for
New Orleans as requested. The book was by Billy May and Sammy Nestico,
it was a dream come true. Al Hirt did things on the trumpet that were
not on the horn, he was a true giant, and avoided the Dixieland repertoire,
we played all straight ahead charts, it was a great time. Al Hirt and
I had a great relationship it was a true privilege.
- Let's discuss
commercialism and the music industry. Is it frustrating for you as an
artist (that has obviously put in countless hours of practice and effort)
to see N Sync sell over 1,000,000 albums in their first week of release
when jazz artists go largely unrecognized by the record-buying public?
I signed my first recording contract at the age of 21 with worldwide
distribution and promotion, opening for "Chicago" before 60,000
people. Prior to that I had toured and recorded with Jimi Hendrix's
drummer with the Buddy Miles Express for three and a half years with
crowds ranging from 15,000 to 100,000 per night. I worked with, or toured
on the same bill with almost every major pop and rock act of the mid
to late seventies and to say the least I was near exhaustion and burnt
out. I carried my own production company and contracting service, later
turning to carrying and recording a full big band as an artist/producer.
I was also married at the time with three children. I was also privileged
to have worked and known most of the greatest stars of the last century,
my managers, agents, lawyers and public relations people handled the
greatest stars of the era which opened many doors. I became the personal
manager to many legendary entertainers and slowly began accepting only
guest solo work more with my own orchestra or as a soloist or lead player
in the studios. My only regret is that I couldn't maintain the volume
of work for so many great musicians who worked for me at the time, as
a contractor. With the release of my 10th album, I hope to be able to
introduce new talent in the future, on tour in concert and recordings.
You must bear in mind I carry a staff of four people full time at www.paulcacia.com,
plus my team of lawyers and with receiving 10s of thousands of hits
yearly plus correspondence; no, I've lived that, you can have being
a pop star, and being told what to record. Fame is a double-edged sword.
But it does bother me to see so many deserving great new players unable
to be recorded or break into the business. I came up in a much different
time. In regard to financial areas, I think that can be best answered
by the next question.
and more specifically MP3 swapping have been big issues in recent years.
Do you feel that file sharing negatively impacts the music industry
or that it exposes consumers to new artists? Many jazz fans feel that
MP3 swapping is their only way to hear out of print material, do you
consider that stealing?
For more than 30
years I've been a professional trumpet player. The only time I have
been on salary or received a weekly paycheck is when I played lead trumpet
for Al Hirt, Ray Anthony's Orchestra, and when I guest starred with
Pia Zadora on tour. The balance of time, some 25 years, I made my living
as a producer, artist and a freelance studio player, during that time
never receiving a regular salary or paycheck. The music business is
a complicated and political nightmare governed by intellectual properties
and entertainment business law. It is no easy feat trying to raise a
budget from a label to record and release a big band project these days.
The music we love and that drives us all is considered a losing proposition
by the major labels, as it is, an art form, not a socially relevant
element where they can move a million units, such as rap music. From
their point of view unless they feel they can move a hundred thousand
units it's not worth their time even if you give it to them. It's becoming
more of a vanity type industry by artists putting up the money themselves
or colleges and universities recording projects with small distribution
deals. I'd like to think I could present new, younger, deserving artists
in the future devoting the balance of my career to this proposition
after the release of my newest project. But that will be a most daunting
task; they need to be paid, too. The future looks bleak unless something
is created with enough excitement and promotion to sell albums and bring
the audiences out. I would encourage a statutory $.99 fee for downloading
a single song, which just might wake the label executives up to the
plight of finding the tracks your speaking of. In the meantime, there
are estate sales, eBay, swap meets, used record shops, and garage sales.
You also might be surprised what has been re-released on CD these days,
I've found Maynard's "All The Things You Are" which was banned
at one time by the Jerome Kern Estate, on a Charlie Barnet CD for $7.99.
It just takes a little effort and research. You also must bear in mind
that most of these early recordings were originally released on 78 RPM
platters and then released on 10", then on 33 1/3 LP's, plus you
get the liner notes, often very informative. It isn't easy trying to
make a living, raise a family, etc
unless you are a socially relevant
current major label act. When you consider as an artist you're lucky
to get 10% of the net sales of an album and after you pay your lawyers,
personal manager, publicist and accountant there goes 50% of that, and
oh yes, Uncle Sam wants his cut too. So if it's a new project I especially
encourage those of us who love this music to support those artists,
particularly if it's a re-issue or the label won't fool around, even
the small labels, if they can't break even. Without even mentioning
the legal aspects, I would have to encourage these other alternatives
for acquiring the material being sought after. Besides, how many tunes
are we talking about, at what point does it become irresponsible?
- Let's get technical
for a moment. What equipment do you use and why?
As a young student of Claudes I started on an Olds Ambassador
model trumpet and a 7C mouthpiece. Each six months moving me to a larger
mouthpiece until eventually arriving at a 1 1/4C skeletonized Bach with
a Morse taper, #19 drill and a full Schmidt backbore. His concept was
to overdevelop the entire physical structure for my later career. Muscle
has memory. I, of course, later played on a C. G. model Benge.
I play a custom made mouthpiece and switch between several instruments.
I have withdrawn all endorsements at the present time. Until I find
a trumpet and mouthpiece manufacturer that can satisfy my standards
I will stay with the classic older handmade instruments and mouthpieces.
- Do you have
any tips for our trumpet playing readers regarding range?
Through my work with
Claude and Cat as well as sitting next to so many legendary lead players
of the last century I cannot stress two things enough. The first being
form. Form is everything. If you have to think about it, you're late.
You must train your body like that of a great athlete so as to focus
on the task at hand, and that is to create music. Second, in almost
every case when a professional player is beginning to encounter problems,
remember 2/3 top lip, 1/3 bottom lip with the correct warm- up. There
are so many ideas of warming up that most players are defeating themselves
before they take the stage by improper setting of their tessitura during
their warm-up phase. I have used the same warm-up for 30 years. It has
never failed me. Also, the most critical point is the proper gap with
the mouthpiece set into the receiver correctly. Without the proper distance
between the mouthpiece and the venturi you'll spend all your time fighting
your horn. Last but not least, endless drills and exercises until they
are automatic and slotting perfectly without thought. Don't practice
mistakes. If you make more than three errors on the same passage move
to something else until you play it three times in a row correctly,
only then have you overcome it. To really own a piece of music, play
the last bar first, then add the second to the last, then the third
and so on until you have completed the entire piece. Finally, in regards
to the upper register, Claude Gordon's "Systematic Approach"
do it faithfully as prescribed.
- Tell us a little
bit about your current projects.
My latest project
focuses on many different styles of the classic concert jazz orchestra
and features many of the final recordings in a big band setting of:
Marshall Royal, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Tito Puente, Pete Candoli,
Conte Candoli, "Snooky" Young, Louie Bellson, Jimmy Rowles,
Buddy Collette, Vince DeRosa, Chuck Findley, Bill Miller, Paul Smith,
Gabe Baltazaar, Don Menza, Ray Reed, Bill Watrous, Sal Marquez, Jack
Nimitz, Jay Migilori, Stacey Rowles, Tommy Johnson, and Al Viola. As
well as many of the top name, L.A. studio musicians. We are planning
for a 2004 release.
Paul Cacia album is your favorite?
Certainly it is the
new one, but above all, "The Alumni Tribute to Stan Kenton",
which was the last studio recording of so many of the great original
geniuses that contributed to that great orchestra. My only regret is
that Maynard was unable to perform "What's New" due to scheduling
problems. He was filling in all of Buddy Rich's dates due to Buddy's
illness. It was an honor to have Shorty Rogers conduct for me I also
learned a deeper respect for Maynard as Shorty pointed out certain key
elements as the chart was written specifically for how he played.
- You are now
on the internet at http://www.paulcacia.com.
What caused you to create an internet presence, and how involved are
you personally in the content of your web site?
The internet site
has provided a way to interact with countless thousands of fans, friends,
associates and professional players the world over, with the coming
months all of my albums will be available on CD. Covering a quarter
of a century of my studio recordings. We will also be focusing on the
great soloists, studio musicians and sidemen that have worked with me
or that I've known including many great items of musical memorabilia.
I'm very proud of my staff, which promptly ships all orders within 48
hours. With my Webmaster, Executive Secretary, Sheryl and Gail running
the daily operations as well as my attorneys we've been able to accomplish
many great strides. The diversity of my projects has created a wide
demographic of fans and interested people. It allows me to answer and
communicate with interested parties the world over almost immediately
through email as opposed to snail mail, which used to pile up for weeks
on end. It has also been thrilling to hear about and listen to clips
of so many great young players the world over on the internet, we will
be continuing to expand in the coming years in a much broader scope
hoping to contribute to many other great sites such as "The Maynard
Tribute Page". I'm a great master mixdown engineer in the analog
idiom, but need help just dictating and sending an email. I'm afraid
I leave that up to them as much as possible. They run as much as they
can by me and I try to assist them but with traveling and studio work
(a la solo albums) I'm afraid the credit must go to my staff. In the
coming months we hope to post some remarkable photographs and memorabilia,
such as original parts recorded by Gozzo, Pete Candoli, Harry James
and Maynard, all of which were mementos given to me from the conductors,
arrangers, and players of that era.
- When was the
first time you saw Maynard "live", and your reaction?
That would be at Corona High School in the gym. It was Maynard's first
U.S. tour as he returned to the states with his all English band, upon
the release of the "Give It One" album. He was the opening
act for the Kenton Orchestra. Circa 1971, I'll guess. He was in his
early forties and in outrageous shape. I was taken aback by his showmanship
I'd never witnessed anyone so at-one with his playing and physical involvement.
As I began to study him I realized that as much of what he was doing
was entertaining he was utilizing his key power points of his body in
perfect form, in unison with his playing. Ah, there's that word again,
"form". His form flowed in perfect balance with his requirements
of what he was performing without thought. He was one with himself and
the horn, literally transcending the physical and placing himself in
a higher state of mental focus. He is a true living master overcoming
adversity and mastering his craft to its pinnacle state. He knows and
reads his body without conscious thought. I contend that Maynard would
be a master at any endeavor. His sound and influence have entertained
countless millions for more than half a century and changed almost everyone
for the better along the way. It seems the world is blessed every century
or so with such geniuses, he is just such one of these inexplicable
artists. There is only one Maynard Ferguson there will never be another.
A living master and legend. I stand in awe, today as then with my sincere
admiration and respect eternally.
- Have you ever
had any memorable moments with Maynard?
Never having had the privilege of working for him, I have met Maynard
three or four times and seen him perform two dozen times over 25 years.
In 1983, we were in pre-production for him to produce my next album
it was to be titled "Maynard Ferguson Presents Paul Cacia".
Ultimately the managers and lawyers tabled it, and it never came about,
to my great disappointment, but I found him to be remarkably focused
and lucid with an extraordinary memory and tremendous sense of humor.
In the end the project was titled "Quantum Leap". See the
letter of intent on www.paulcacia.com.
Today, he awes audiences as he continues to be the one and only Maynard,
and as Stan Kenton used to say, "Maynard, someday you'll be king",
well someday happened a long time ago, and the king he is and shall
- What are your
favorite M.F. songs?
All The Things You
Are-1950-Arranged by Dennis Farnon
The Titan Symphony-Part III-1958-Chicago Symphony-Composed and Arranged
by William Russo
Ole' - Composed and Arranged by Slide Hampton
Everyday I have the Blues-Arranged by Willie Maiden
Favorite Overall LP-Jazz For Dancing
Maynard, who's nickname is the "Fox", has always seemed to do
the impossible, he lives in the present or now, unshaken by trivial distractions,
rising to the highest level of consciousness as though a great shaman
or guru. He has also achieved the impossible by keeping a vibrant touring
band for more than 30 years on the road since the "Give It One"
album, an accomplishment no other jazz artist has been able to achieve.
Finally and most important,
I'd like to express my admiration and gratitude to Matt Keller for his
hard work, persistence and integrity to help forward the music and keep
the flame burning. Trumpets Forever!
I want to thank Paul
for taking time to answer my questions.