by Dave Monette
Our latest decorated presentation instrument, made in collaboration with Portland Goldsmith Tami Dean, was made for my dear friend, Trumpet Legend Charlie Schlueter. Our first interview with Charlie in the process of designing the decorative part of the horn took place in May 2005. We started working steadily on the horn in 2007, and Charlie finally received the completed instrument on a visit to our Portland shop late last Fall, 2009.
A few days after delivery, Charlie flew to Brazil for Heinz Schwebel’s National Trumpet Symposium. He played the horn in concerts, master classes and lessons all that week - and then on the last day of the event played it for a full recital! As is typical of Charlie and his history with new Monette instruments, it was the “initiation by fire” approach to breaking in the new horn!
WHAT ARE ALL THESE CRAZY DECORATIONS?
This very special instrument, like all our decorated horns, is designed to visually as well as musically tell the life story of the player… to celebrate Charlie’s musical achievements and to honor the people and events that shaped his life and career.
This instrument took several years and approximately 2,000 man/hours to complete. The instrument is decorated with saw-pierced icons, and a selection of Charlie’s favorite precious and semi-precious stones. This includes several dozen diamonds, turquoise-inlaid first and third slide rings and second valve slide nib. To finish it out, we inlaid Lightning Ridge Black Opal in the finger buttons. I personally did the turquoise and opal inlay, as detailed in the picture and video we have prepared highlighting the finish work as we completed the horn.
SHEET BRACING SAW PIERCE DETAIL
All of the sheet bracing of the horn is used as a canvass for Tami Dean’s saw-pierced icons. The icons represent teachers, friends and influences that helped shape the path of Charlie’s life journey. One favorite icon is the trumpet exploding out of the accordion! This is significant because as a beginning musician Charlie first thought he might like to learn the accordion. But when Charlie's parents took him to the local music teacher, Charlie Archibald, he said, "Naw, you don't want to play accordian - it's heavy, it will get pin holes in the bellows...here, try my cornet" - and that, of course, evolved into the trumpet and that was the end of any thought of playing the accordian.
The back brace of the horn - closest to Charlie’s heart when he plays - celebrates his immediate family: his two daughters Toni and Erica, his parents, and of course his wife Martha. Martha, an accomplished violinist and painter, is represented as a saw-pierced violin with a paintbrush for its bow. Other icons on this brace include one for Charlie’s father, a coal miner, with the traditional coal miner’s helmet and a large diamond by the headlamp. His younger daughter Erica is a silversmith and also works in textiles - hence the knitting Aries Ram. His oldest daughter Toni is the mother of Charlie’s two grandsons, so we used the Libran Scales for balance and grace with the birthstones of her two sons in the scales cradles. Charlie described his mother as someone who, “Twittered about like a bird,” so for her icon, Tami came up with a simplified version of Paul Klee’s “Twittering Machine.”
THE TRUMPET LILY OUTER BELL!
There are decorative trumpet lilies cut into the outer bell, which is connected with a few dozen sound posts meticulously placed to optimize the resonance and enhance the playing qualities of the horn. We have over 200 hours just in crafting and attaching the outer bell with all the sound posts! Dean Willoughby did a masterful job at fabricating and fitting parts together, while Tami Dean spent what seemed like half a lifetime cleaning up and perfecting the outer bell. Every time we go through the outer bell nightmare, we say, “NEVER AGAIN!” Then we do it again…
VIDEOS SHOWING THE FUN STUFF!
We made many ongoing videos as we finished up the horn. They are up on the Monette Trumpets Facebook Page posted by date in October and November 2009. In addition, we have a new ten-minute video with Tami Dean showing us, in detail, how she came up with the unique decorations that visually tell Charlie’s life story in the horn. As you watch the video, you hear Charlie in the background as he plays the first notes on the horn! We have another video that shows some of the most interesting work we did installing the outer bell, fitting sound posts, prepping the horn for gold plating and figuring out how to do the stone inlay! There is also a short video with a closeup look at the beautiful opal finger buttons.
CHARLIE’S FIRST CD ON THIS HORN!
As this story is being final edited just before posting, Charlie's new CD, "STATEMENTS," is about to be released. The CD, recorded for Helicon Records, is the most ambitious recording he has made to date. Charlie used all Monette decorated instruments, including his new SAMADHI C and Art Farmer's decorated FLUMPET. The CD was recorded with chamber orchestra, and features THREE WORLD PREMIER RECORDED PIECES! Watch our webpage for full details once the CD is released, sometime around the end of November or beginning of December, 2010.
Charlie Schlueter has provided me with several lifetimes of inspiration for new instrument designs, and I’m doing my best to keep innovating and coming up with new designs that are worthy of Charlie and the other truly great players I am fortunate enough to work with. After working with Charlie for almost 30 years now, I am excited beyond words to have finally delivered this very special instrument to my dear friend Charlie Schlueter. Thanks Charlie…
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