Meet the Band – Ian Buzer
We’re starting a new series of interviews on the Horn Factory web site where we get to know a bit more about members of the band. We start by chatting to trumpet player Ian Buzer about his musical history, his influences and more.
When did you join Horn Factory and what instrument did you play?
I joined Horn Factory in 2013 and I play second trumpet.
At what age did you start playing the trumpet? How did you learn?
Like most children that grew up in the 70s I learnt to play recorder at school. I was never much good at reading music but managed to cover that up by playing by ear. Some things never change!
I started to play trumpet when I was around 9 or 10. I wanted to play saxophone or piano but there were no vacancies. Apparently no-one else wanted to play trumpet so my musical future was set.
What was the first band you played in?
My first band was a marching band in Essex called “The Hadleigh Marching Militaire”. I started on the cymbals which consisted of the occasional crash, but mostly I was holding them for the drummers like some kind of mobile human cymbal stand! Fortunately my new found trumpet skills allowed me graduate to the brass section.
It was a tough musical apprenticeship. I remember clearly marching round in the rain and freezing cold winters in preparation for the next season. We were sponsored by the now defunct “Texas Homestore” DIY chain which saw us touring around in a double decker bus playing every store car park in Essex!
What’s been your favourite band to perform with (other than Horn Factory!)
I have fond memories of a band called the Easy Listening Band of the World (E.L.B.O.W. for short – this was before a certain rock group stole our name!). We played a selection of funky themes from 70s film and TV, mixed with easy listening music from people like Bert Bacharach, Herb Alpert and Bert Kaempfert. I’ll never forget our first gig – the sight of an enthusiastic audience dressed in wigs and flares dancing to the theme from The Prisoner while a 6ft white weather balloon bobbed above their heads…
Do you have a musical claim to fame?
That will be back to the Hadleigh Marching Militaire. We were once asked to perform on the Cannon and Ball show, a performance that is now immortalised thanks to the wonders of the Internet. It was back in the days when there were only four TV channels so the viewing figures would have been several million.
When did you first become interested in jazz?
My very first musical memory goes back to when I was very young, probably around 5 or 6. I sometimes went to a dancing club with my nan and grandad and they would have a live big band playing for the dancers. The one thing I remember vividly was the end of each number when they would finish on a long chord – every musician seemed to be playing a different note but it sounded so beautifully rich.
I really got interested in Jazz when I was around 15. I was getting a bit bored of playing classical music for my grades so when I saw a really interesting looking record with a trumpet on the cover at my local library I took it home. It was The Man with the Horn by Miles Davis and as you can imagine it totally changed the way I saw the trumpet.
Then, digging through my dad’s record collection in search of more jazz music I found an album called Thelonius Monk in Action with Thelonius Monk and Johnny Griffin playing live at the Five Spot in New York. To me, even today, this album, totally defines the sound of live jazz and I love it.
Do you play in any other bands outside of Horn Factory?
I play in a quartet called Morphology. We play jazz that is influenced by the music coming out of the west coast of America in the 1950s, names like Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Lee Konitz etc. The band has no drummer which helps us create a light open sound. We also aim to keep our solos as melodic as possible which we hope keeps it a accessible to a non jazz audience, even if the music can at times be complex and challenging to play.
Who are your musical heros?
I’ve try to listen to a broad range of musicians as possible as each can bring something unique to the music. For example amongst the more well known trumpet players I love the way Miles Davis plays such oblique phrases that seem to float across the chord changes. I also love the pure tone and virtuosity of Freddie Hubbard and the sheer intensity of Tom Harrell’s playing. However, the one person I keep coming back to is Chet Baker. Although his playing is never particularly complex or virtuosic, it is beautifully melodic and you can tell it comes instinctively from the heart.
What do you do when you’re not playing music?
I guess I’m a bit of a car nut and I’m currently in the process of trying to restore a 1926 Model T Ford. I keep threatening to arrive to a Horn Factory rehearsal in it but that could be a long time coming – it’s been three years so far and the engine still isn’t running!