Surfside, Florida - December 1, 2001
I started playing the trombone at the age of 14. I ended up signing up for band in 9th grade (two years later than most kids) because I had a crush on Kathy Hirschman, a cute clarinet player (who was also a cheerleader) and consequently, I learned how to play the trombone very fast. Love can definitely inspire people to do some really amazing things, LOL! Mr. Blum, who was my band teacher and mentor, was really amazed by my progress. Little did he know what motivated me! I had only been playing the t-bone for half a year and my classmates from band formed a group that had the same instrumentation as the Chicago Transit Authority (as it was called back then). They asked me to play the trombone for them and to write their arrangements. I learned how to do that very quickly, too! We used to practice after school and we played mostly songs by Chicago. Of course I immediately became a big fan of Chicago and they became my favorite band, and still are to this very day.
Back in my high school days (Old Days, fun days filled with simple pleasures), I would listen to my Chicago albums every day and play my trombone along with them. I used to transcribe the trombone part. However, when I found out about the Chicago sketch scores (I have every single one of them!), I decided to learn how to read treble clef and this way, I no longer had to spend hours writing out the trombone parts. I only wish I could play half as well as James Pankow did! Chicago’s music has been a big inspiration (You’re The Inspiration) to me all these years and it inspired me to get into the music business.
At the age of 20, I joined a group called The New World. They were one of the top party bands in Miami and I played bass for them and occasionally the trombone, too. I also did all their arranging and copy work. I later joined a band called band Galaxy and have been playing for private parties in South Florida with them since 1986. I now play several instruments including keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, and I still play my trombone occasionally.
I am also a music arranger: I worked for Warner Bros. for 13 years and produced sheet music and music books for them. One of the biggest highlights of my music career was in September 1996 when I wrote the sheet music arrangement for the song One Clear Voice by Peter Cetera. My first trombone was a King 3B with an F attachment. I later got a King 3B without an F attachment (like the one James Pankow used to play!) then a King 2B Silversonic. I now play a Yamaha YSL-354 trombone (the one in this picture). Like me, James Pankow also plays a Yamaha trombone nowadays, although I think it’s a different model than mine.
This photo is about as patriotic as it can possibly get! Although I was born in Bulgaria, lived in France and Spain, and finally came to the United States at the age of 12, I became a naturalized American citizen on February 5, 1975, and I am very proud of it. (Photo by Ron Weintraub)