Over a year ago we got a call from Wynton's office asking if we had a flugelhorn he could use for a new piece he had written for the LCJO that had a short flugel double for the trumpet section. We had not made a flugelhorn since we made just two as prototypes back in the late 1980's. Then in 1989 Art Farmer inspired the first FLUMPET, which quickly caught on with both jazz and classical players we work with. So the success of the Flumpet effectively put a 20 plus year hold on the updated Monette flugelhorn.
Now over two decades later, armed with CNC machines and the likes of Dean Willoughby, John Kim and the rest of my crew to help, we drew up the tooling we would need to make to get the new design built and we started planning and programming.
Among other new features, we needed to come up with an all-new, bottom sprung, one piece valve casing... the first new casing since we built Adam Rapa's 4-valve TANTRA Bb.
We needed a new leadpipe design, so I drew up the shape and gave John the numbers to program. Same thing for the first branch - we needed a completely new design to get to where we needed to go. The mandrel sizes coming off the CNC were right on the numbers to the specs I wrote up for John to cut.
Making the new bell mandrel took some finagling. We started with a 175 pound round of steel, and we milled it down to hog off some extra material before fitting it in the lathe. We bored and tapped both ends, taking great pains to keep everything indexed perfectly and concentric.
The finished mandrel turned out great. This is the longest bell mandrel we have ever made, and when it was done it was absolutely right on the numbers. When we trimmed the bell and matched it to the large end of the new first branch, it was a perfect fit.
When the flugel was finally playable, clients visited the shop from all over during the very brief window of time before delivery to check it out. We wanted lots of testing and break-in before turning Wynton loose with it. We had Bernat from Spain visit - who ordered one on the spot. Then Troy from New Orleans, otherwise known as "Trombone Shorty" came by. Finally our dear friend Ron Miles from Denver tested it out for us. All of them said it was the best sounding, best playing flugel they had ever played.
We needed a custom Monette case to fit our unique flugel design. I drew up the shell dimensions, all under the carry on size restrictions, and then contacted our fiberglass shop to gear up and make molds. Our case maker Nick was up to the task, and we made the first Monette flugel case with custom cut interior and Nick's beautiful leather exterior just in time to deliver Bernat's new flugel earlier this year.
When it was time for delivery to Wynton on the first day of rehearsals for his Swing Symphony with the L.A. Philharmonic, Rashawn Ross met me at the hotel near the hall in L. A. at 7:30 AM to test the horn for himself. I'm not sure how the others on our floor would rate this instrument, but Rashawn loved it. Wynton played a few notes on it just moments before his rehearsal, and when I asked him how he liked it, he just said, "It's a Monette!"
Since the first of these new flugels was delivered to Wynton about a year ago, we have already made five more, with many more on backorder. Thanks to Wynton for inspiring the new design, and to Bernat in Spain for helping us fine-tune a few critical design details!
So how does it play? Our new Flugel is not only revolutionary in visual design, but also in the way it plays! While most flugelhorns become more and more difficult to play as you go above the staff, our new Monette flugelhorn stays in-tune with comfortable and secure slotting all the way up to high C and beyond.The intonation is exactly what you expect from any Monette instrument: in-tune octaves without adjustment and a fifth partial (D, Eb and E) that NEVER requires alternate fingerings!Compared to our popular Flumpet, which has a very thick and concentrated sound, the new Monette flugelhorn has a sound which fits in great in sections where the conductor or other trumpet players might not prefer the thicker sound of the Flumpet. It's still very dark and full, and will work great anywhere you would normally play flugelhorn, without the common intonation and response problems of conventional flugels.
Bernat, Troy, Ron, Rashawn and Wynton play the first Monette Flugelhorn