AV: What was it about music that drew you to it at the beginning? What did it bring to your life that wouldn’t be there without music?
JO: I began playing trumpet when I was 8 years old. It was in Highland Park, Illinois, and I was in third grade. They brought me into the band instrument room at school, and said “pick one”. I can still see the brass against the blue velour of the case – I can still smell the valve oil. My parents told me at the time that when I was asked why I chose the trumpet, I said “I want to play the melody”
But what it has brought me is much deeper than that. I moved around quite a bit when I was growing up ( by the time I was there in Highland Park, I’d already been born in Danville, IL, moved to Lynchburg, VA, Columbus OH – and after Highland Park, we moved to Providence RI, Framingham MA, and then Coral Gables FL – not to mention my own moves after that to Eugene OR, Los Angeles Ca, NYC and then finally Alameda CA)
My horn was what made me different, what got me noticed, what got me accepted. Always being the “new kid” wasn’t easy. I remember when I was in sixth grade – in Framingham, MA. I had just moved there, and I brought my horn to school – and played Silver Bells that winter. I realized that no matter how “different” I was – the music that came out of my horn was understood and accepted. That remains true today. And tomorrow.