Steve Provizer’s comment about Bill Hardman’s off-center trumpet embouchure in last weekend’s Horace Silver video reminded me of other trumpeters with unconventional mouthpiece placement. There are many examples. Hardman’s, Jon Faddis’s and Ruby Braff’s mouthpieces go to the left, Louis Armstrong’s and Wild Bill Davison’s slightly to the right. In all cases, what comes out the other end of the horn is beautiful, leading to Steve’s conclusion that there are no rules.
Here’s Wild Bill leading an All Star Band in “You Took Advantage of Me” at the Bern, Switzerland, Jazz Festival in 1985. Davison trumpet; Warren Vaché, cornet (he doesn’t solo here); Bob Wilber, clarinet; Bill Allred, trombone; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Dick Wellstood, piano; Milt Hinton bass; Jake Hanna drums.
Mr. Provizer, a trumpeter, knows what he’s talking about. A few years ago on his Brilliant Corners blog, he posted an illustrated essay on the off-center question. A couple of the video examples have encountered copyright roadblocks, but most of them still work. The post ends with a famous Dizzy Gillespie-Louis Armstrong collaboration, and it’s more than worth a look. To see it, go here.