I was born in Sydney in 1975, I grew up with parents actively involved in many facets of the music scene promoting, performing, teaching and presenting. This has transcended into me and I really enjoy the many things I do. Performing, teaching, presenting gigs, promoting and now blogging.
I don’t know when I actually started playing the trumpet, there are photos of me as a toddler playing the cornet, my father taught me how to get a tone and the fingerings and the notes but my earliest recollection was being in grade 3 at Jamboree Heights State School and playing in the concert band.
Over my school years I played in many (seemed like every) school band that I could. I also played in community brass bands (Brisbane Brass Band, Sunnybank Brass Band and South Brisbane Federal Brass Band). Performing at most of the state and national competitions every year. I did solo cornet competitions, which I hated because all the kids in the brass band would always say that “so and so on Euphonium is going to beat you” and when I used win I felt really bad for the other people, I didn’t understand why I was competing, I mean who really wins, me or the band I’m in because they have the most trophy’s at the end of the competition? However, I did enjoy playing and learning. In high school I auditioned for the Australian National Youth Band (something I worked hard for) and got in. Went to Sydney for a camp and played at the Sydney Opera House, this was a great experience because the band was great. I remember the repertoire was hard and I was thankful for playing 3rd trumpet, one of the first trumpet players was Simon Sweeney who is now a great trumpet player’s in the country living in Sydney.
During primary and high school I was playing in my father’s professional big band that had all the best musicians in Brisbane at the time, including Andrew McNaughton (huge influence on me), Dale Richardson, Rod Sheppard, Craig Haniceck, Jeff Usher, Clive Moorhead, Ken Edie, Jon Diamond, Steve Francis, Rob Anders, Greg Aitken, John Babbage, Andrew Suttie, Andrew Shaw, Sharon Bushell, Darren McPhearson the list goes on as the band was around for almost 10 years with different personnel coming and going. I wasn’t really in the band but I always had to go to the gigs and then when I got good enough the guys in the band encouraged me to play. I remember the tours to North Queensland were a lot of fun but very hard work for my dad as he organized it all, played in the band and had to deal with all the energetic young guys in his band, plus the publicans at each venue, but this was just part of daily life for us Quigley’s. I enjoyed it so much that I really started to resent having to go back to school because I was learning more life skills and more about music and it was exhilarating. School sucked because none of my friends knew who Stevie Wonder, Wynton Marsalis, Maynard Ferguson was and telling them that I met these people meant nothing to them but so much to me.
The other great thing that happened in high school was my trumpet teachers. When I was 14 I started lessons with Phil Ryan, I think he is the best trumpet teacher in Australia, he’s like a nutty professor that obsessed over the smallest things but his teaching practice is very personal and he managed to relate trumpet playing to a 14 year old by relating it to other personal interests like AFL, Cricket, Video games, movies. This was a great experience and I still get lessons from him but he doesn’t let me pay him anymore and because he’s such an open incredible guy will ask me things that he wants to know about.
When I was 16 John Hoffman moved to the NSW Northern coast area and I started lessons with him. Lessons with John were different, John is a close friend to my family so he would stay at our house but we wouldn’t have lessons there (thankfully) so it was a different relationship. John’s style of teaching took (and still takes) a long time to fully understand. John came to Australia from the USA after playing in the road bands of Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and he was/is “the guy”. His teaching is more about learning and he’ll tell you that, and even that as a concept is difficult to understand. I am very fortunate to be able to call ‘Big Boy’ (aka John Hoffman) up and ask questions or whatever. Since John doesn’t understand AFL or Cricket (because he’s American, they’ll get it one day) he didn’t relay things the same way Phil Ryan did. John’s principles are about ‘Sound’ and ‘Beauty’ these things are hard to be right or wrong, so it took me years to really understand. I’d see John play whenever I could and each time it would make sense as to what he was talking about but again very hard to put into words. I now think of ‘Sound’ and ‘Beauty’ every time I play and it’s funny that 2 words have the impact they do over a period of time as they mean so much more to me now than they ever had. I used to get frustrated with John because he didn’t give me the answers I wanted instead he’d answer my question with a phrase and I’d immediately think, what does that mean? Then I’d go away and think about it. I still remember most of the things he said to me as what he would say I had to go away and learn how to do. I do remember being very frustrated with him about his teaching and I approached him and really questioned him and his abilities and was very disrespectful and I’m just lucky he’s a nice guy as it’s only been recently that we’ve managed to be “cool” with each other. So while I don’t have weekly lessons with John anymore I feel his ability to help me learn has helped me immensely.
I have had lessons with Bobby Shew, Charlie Davis, Marvin Stamm, Haken Hardenburger, Tim Hagans and few other really important trumpet players that I can’t remember right now, but the lessons I had with John McNeil while in New York a few ago were some of the best hours money has paid for. I sat down in his room and he asked me “let’s play this”, then “let’s play that” this went on for about 10 mins then he took a long pause and said “right, you need to learn these things” and started listing all things I really needed to work on, and giving me multiple ways to work them out. It was great and I look forward to seeing him again.
One of the most inspirational musicians to me is Dale Barlow. What Dale has achieved in his life is like a dream to me. I’m lucky to know Dale and whenever I see him we get along so well, I think we have the same record collection, whenever he says have ever heard that recording of…? I say yeah, I’ve got that one and we blab on about it for hours. He’s got the biggest heart and is more addicted to jazz than me which is what makes him so inspirational to me.
The musicians who I’m around a lot of the time are also great teachers, I always learn something, that’s why jazz is so good, there’s always something to learn, it’s also why I think people don’t like it, becasue there’s so much to learn and it never stops. So, Greaeme Norris, Andrew Garton, Andrew Shaw, Dave Sanders, Paula Girvan, Nathan Goldman, Jamie Clark, Paul Hudson, Russell Bayne, Tony Ashby, Jeff Hawes, Col Jones, James Ryan, James Sherlock, Scott Tinkler among other people who really help or have helped me learn on the bandstand. Col Loughnan, Craig Scott, Mike Nock, Steve Brien, Don Radar, Warwick Alder and Bob Barnard are people I wish I could spend more time with, but that would mean moving away from the underrated and over regulated city of Brisbane that I live in.
I learn so much from my students at JMI (Jazz Music Institute) and they have no idea how much I learn from them. I enjoy teaching and the phrase, “those that can do, and those that can’t teach” is utter rubbish or maybe it was coined before we had schools? The best teachers I’ve had are all practicing, professional musicians. The worst teachers I’ve had never played professionally. So, if someone says that to me again….watch out!!!
I thoroughly enjoy the daily practice of music, in particular jazz, it keeps me grounded because I love having so much fun and my “larger than life” personality can have a life of it’s own sometimes.
Other things about me, I like fixed gear bikes, thanks to my father who introduced them to me when I was very young, he held a track record at a Velodrome for decades and he didn’t even know until it the record was broken. I enjoy reading, good conversation, craft beer and nice wine, since men can’t accessorize like women I accessorize with shoes and hats, I like the Brisbane Lions and Cricket. I have a beautiful wife Emma and the most gorgeous daughter Pearl.
Other than that it’s all jazz, and not just trumpet players, I like anyone who is good. I like the fact that knowing 300+ tunes is not enough, that playing with no ego is hard and taste and beauty are more important than flashy tricks and high notes, that being creative within the boundaries of jazz forces one to be really creative, I like that I don’t have to play it the same way every time and if I do I get bored, I like that it doesn’t have to be perfect as I’m not and nobody is, I like black coffee and Cashmere Bouquet soap. I’ll stop there…