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Thursday, May 2, 2013 03:40 am

20 years of the FTQ

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The Frank Trompeter Quartet celebrates 20 years at Norb Andy’s Friday, May 3 from 8:30-11:30 p.m.

Oh, how we love to measure time, indeed, we live by that desire, but that’s the human way of observing and commemorating movement through our lives. Important events in our travels are designated by counting the years and creating anniversaries. Please join us for one of these milestones as we celebrate 20 years of the Frank Trompeter Quintet/Quartet.

Frank, a self-proclaimed “sax player and jazz singer” has graced the venues and stages of central Illinois for longer than 20 years, but his pride and joy commonly known as the FTQ, first began two decades ago. Since then the group, sometimes performing as a quintet, sometimes as a quartet and sometimes as a quartet or quintet with a guest player or two, has seen several musicians come through the ranks, usually staying for quite some time, often coming back to play again after a few years off and occasionally only doing a few gigs.

“I’m the only one in the band since the beginning,” says Frank with a smile. “But there’s been at least 25 musicians in 20 years play in the group. Brian Pryor started with us back in 1993 and now is sitting in again in 2013. That’s how it’s been.”

Trompeter worked with luminaries of the local jazz music scene and beginners looking for a start, home-schooled rockers expanding their horizons and highly trained musicians looking to further the dynamics of jazz. One of the biggest advantages of working with different musicians is gaining the talents, songs, attitudes and ideas each artist brings to the table or the stage, as the case may be. Frank’s constant presence and continual progression (several years ago he took up jazz singing) balances the influx of new players, providing a consistency within the change, making each combination a worthy successor to the last, without seeming better, just different and interesting.

“As I was going back through set lists of years ago, I noticed, even with new players, we still do some of the same old songs,” he states. “One of the challenges of a bandleader is putting arrangements together for the different musicians and having a vision of how it all will work.”

In 2007, Trompeter basically reinvented the FTQ, to the point of calling it The New Frank Trompeter Quartet, revamping with a group of younger musicians coming on the scene. The incoming attitudes opened doors and provided ideas for the longtime bandleader.

“A fringe benefit of playing with new musicians, and especially the younger ones, is mixing genres, something I like to do and you’ll see lots of bands in the big cities doing now,” he says. “We do, say, “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael as a funk tune and Frank Sinatra’s “I Get a Kick Out of You” reggae style. We’ve never had a complaint and it never gets old that way.”

Along with the FTQ, Trompeter also plays with End Times Trio, a free jazz group that allows for much more improvisation and much less structure. ETT plays this Sunday, May 5 at The Pharmacy, opening for the world-famous Doneda/Nakatani Duo, presently on an international tour, making a lucky-for-us stop in Springfield. Catch Frank monthly in the evening hours at Marly’s Pub for First Fridays Jazz Happy Hour and at Donnie’s Homespun for Second Thursdays and at the Old Capitol Farmers Market grand opening on the morning of May 15. And of course, at Norb Andy’s this Friday for the celebration, plus other times at various venues around town.

“It’s fun playing and entertaining audiences and there’s a lot of good in it,” he says of the music performance business. “It’s tremendously satisfying.”

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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