Capital Public Radio subscriber John Kuster loves to travel. This last spring he toured France and Italy. While in Paris, he spent hours examining a special exhibition of 21 works by Van Gough.
As a 13 year old trumpet player in 1962 in East Los Angeles, I had a music teacher named Ernie Freeman who had a regional hit; a saxophone instrumental called Raunchy. He gave me an album to take home and listen to. I played it on mom's record player with a nickel on the tone arm. After a few weeks I brought it back and told him how much I liked it. I also told him I was frustrated because I couldn't make my horn sound like him.
He put his hand on my shoulder and replied, “Son, you don't sound like him because you are not him. Don't try to sound like him, try and sound like you!" That album was Miles Davis "Kind of Blue."
I'm at that age where I can't remember where I put my car keys but I have never forgotten his advice. It has informed my decisions all my life in things other than music. I've always tried to be me, an independent thinker. I doubt that he ever knew that those words he spoke to me would stay with me all my life.
I was already listening to KGFJ the R&B station in L.A. with The Magnificent Montague. I soon started listening to Jazz on KBCA, especially “The Debonair Rick's Affair,” hosted by Rick Holmes. I followed Miles' music and was frustrated and annoyed every time he completely changed music but soon caught on and knew he was at the vanguard of music progression. He and Zappa are my two heroes in life.
By John Kuster