Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pete Gemski's Favorite Concert - Faddis!

Pete Gemski with new 'weapon'.
Pete Gemski is the founder & leader of The Lighthouse Little Big Band - an 8-piece unit in St. Augustine that promotes creativity in the region by performing original arrangements as well as more famous ones. Pete plays valve trombone & bass trumpet in the band, but the instrument for most of his life is the trumpet; playing professionally from 11th grade on. He studied at Brown University, did graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, post doctoral research at the Stanford University Medical School and put in 30 years at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, DC. In DC he played in the Bill Potts Big Band, also performing at several inauguration Balls; in particular, Ronald Reagan's 2nd inauguration with the Benny Carter Big Band.

After retiring as Chief of the Department of Molecular Pathology at Walter Reed, he and wife Lenny moved to New Hampshire where he performed and expanded his "arsenal of brass weapons" to euphonium, baritone horn, valve trombone and bass trumpet. The Gemski's became St. Augustine residents in 2005.
In 2012 The Lighthouse Little Big Band put out their
The Lighthouse Little Big Band
first cd featuring arrangements by Pete, Dave Wolpe, Ralph Martin, Larry Dickson and the late bassist, composer and member Frank Capek.

At 77 years young, Pete's 'bucket list' is to play all the brass instruments.
He's currently learning the Bb tuba, with thoughts of forming a Dixieland group in the future. Below is his very entertaining anecdote about an encounter between two trumpet players...

Jon Faddis Quartet at
The Wolf Trap, D.C. Area  November 24, 1989

Renee Rosnes - piano, Louis Nash - drums, ????? - Bass (sorry, I can't remember----too many high notes played as I age as a trumpet player)

As is typical of Jon Faddis, he paid homage to Louis Armstrong by performing (ala Satchmo) "West End Blues" at the end of the set. A standing ovation from the

audience was almost universal. Faddis responded with a big grin and shared the moment with his group that also caught the essence of Satchmo's style in their playing. 

As Faddis walked off the stage, he stopped, turned to the audience and said "How about this?"  He then did Harry James' version of "Ciribiribin" for a few measures, this time having the style and sound associated with Harry James. Someone in the audience requested his version of Wynton---he smiled, took a proper concert posture and played several measures of the Hayden Trumpet Concerto as recorded at one time by Wynton---then gave it a Faddis touch by repeating the same measures octaves above. He then continued interacting with the audience saying "Ready for Miles?"---walked off the stage, returned wearing a borrowed long coat, turned his back to audience, stooped over with the horn pointing at the floor
and started
L-R: Lewis Nash, Bill Charlap, Jon Faddis &
Renee Rosnes - from reneerosnes.coml
playing "Freddie Freeloader". Standing ovation again. "Any other requests?" he inquired.  The big mouth of yours truly took over and from the front row I said "How about the famous Faddis  Double C's?" Faddis grinned and said "How many?". Not to be outdone, I answered "100".  Because he 'clamed' on the 86th double C, I treasure an autographed program by Faddis to "Mr 86" on my music wall. PS--that's how I know the exact date of this memory.

Thanks, Pete, for a very fun concert story and for insight into the congeniality and good humor of a world-class star! - PCJ

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