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It's all about trumpet -- with Kenneth 'Ken The Love Man' Meredith




In my experience, it’s a real challenge to play the trumpet. It takes hard work and dedication. I feel that I haven’t mastered it in over 45 years of practice, and still, I continue to practice every day. This is a challenging instrument, and I’ve heard colleagues say that they wish that they had picked up a different instrument. I sometimes feel that I had picked the sax. Nevertheless, the trumpet is the outstanding and clear instrument in a horn section, and you hear it at all times; at the top of everything else.




Of course when we say “Trumpet”, we are referring to the B-flat trumpet. For instance, I recently purchased a C-trumpet that allows me to play with the piano without converting my notes or transpose.  It’s good to have the C-Trumpet as backup, as there are bands who have trouble transposing music for trumpets. We are up in the high notes where the trumpet brightens up the music. Three of the best ever arrangers of music for the trumpet are Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Thad Jones, I feel.


In a big band, I prefer five saxes, four trombones, and four trumpets. When it must be a smaller band, I feel what matters most is a trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, and a baritone sax. The reason is that it makes for a well-balanced sound. Case in point: the band Tower of Power has exactly these same instrument (trumpet, tenor sax, baritone sax, and trombone), and they sound great. As you know, I worked a lot with Solomon Burke, and his horn section was similarly composed, as well maintaining string and percussion sections.




A lot of acts these days put the money on dancers before they hire a horn section. I understand there are preferences, and cost is always a factor.  Dancers do add color to a show, giving a visual performance but so do horn players. They can provide not only a visual dynamic, but a grand auditory fanfare like with Bruno Mars or, perhaps, analyze the Disco Era. It certainly is a debatable topic.


I love soloing – playing a melody by yourself.  For me it allows me creativity, more freedom. If you’re talented enough, you can not only play the melody to a song but you’re allowed to ad lib with licks or flash, or flare if you will – a style.  For instance, listen to these trumpet players; Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Nat Adderley, Blue Mitchel, and the infamous Louis Armstrong. In my soloing, I try to tell a story that you can understand whether or not you’re a musician.


I live in San Diego and keep active here and in Los Angeles mostly. I’m excited to say, that this October, I’m performing for Solomon Burke’s son. As you may know, I was in Solomon’s band for twenty four years, known as “Ken the Love Man” and traveled the world with him.  God rest his soul (passed October 10, 2010).  It was an honor to know and work with him – an Icon of Rock and Soul.  My current ambition is to put Solomon Burke’s band back together and do a farewell tour. People loved him and his music.





Kenneth Meredith has previously contributed an article to Musicians' Corner, Musicians On Music, where he talks more about his musical journey and his work with Solomon Burke.

READ IT HERE

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Kenneth Meredith - The Love Man



Kenneth Meredith with King Selassie Burke and Solomon Burke.


   I grew up in Compton California where I was always looking for a way to better my life.  I started playing the trumpet in junior high school.  My motivation to play trumpet came from my brother James Meredith who played the trombone with the Little Richard Band.  I loved sports but playing music soon became the love of my life.  Though I thought it was nerdy to play an instrument at the time, I found out later that many other athletes enjoyed playing music as well.


   Troy Robinson, who was a big influence in my Life, introduced me to people like Red Foxx, Donald Byrd and Richard Pryor.  Those were great moments in my life.  He also introduced me to different styles of jazz.  Troy truly opened a lot of doors for me and I will forever be appreciative of his kindness toward me.  He was also instrumental in me being recruited by the New England Conservatory in Boston MA.


   In 1974 I had the opportunity to play at the Southwestern Jazz Festival in San Diego California.  It was there that I got a great break in my musical career.   I was approached by Dr. Eddie Meadows and he invited me to join the jazz onsombo at San Diego State University.


Kenneth Meredith performing with Solomon Burke on Late Night


 

   I met Solomon Burke in 1987 and played with him throughout the years.  The one thing I really enjoyed was the way he always had us well-rehearsed, yet during the concerts he would play according to the mood of the crowd, Solomon always knew what the crowd wanted to hear.


   Solomon liked to pass out roses at every show, and once while in Chicago the orchestra pit was shut down and the ladies had no way of getting to Solomon.  Chicago Sun Times stated that Solomon Burk was trailed by a horn player, who was the only band member dressed in a tight bright red suite and a red hat.   At that time they didn’t know who the man in the suit was, but because of his participation in the show and passing out roses they nicked named him the love man.  That name stayed with me through the rest of my time with Solomon.


   Solomon performed most of the show seated on a huge red thorn and gave out red roses like the Rev. Al Greene.  The love man would come down and assist Solomon during the time the roses were being given to the ladies in the crowd; it was a great time during the show.





Kenneth Meredith on stage with Solomon Burke


   Michael Jackson and Prince, who sadly passed away at a young age, were in my opinion among the greatest entertainers of all times.  My favor horn players are Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Nat Adderley, Clifford Brown and Miles Davis to name a few.


   Presently I play with different local groups and have the opportunity to impart a wealth of experience that I gained as a professional while on the road with Solomon Burke.  I will forever cherish the friendship that we had.  The band members and I are still in contact with one another and sometimes talk about a tribute to Solomon but only with the blessing of his family.


   Solomon Burke had a big heart and touched a lot of people and it's mind-blowing to me that I had the chance to play with such a legend as Solomon Burke.  The gift he gave to me was simply being around him and enjoying life to the fullest, he truly treated me like a son.  So I take this opportunity to solute a great man, a dear friend and one of the greatest entertainers of all times, Mr. Solomon Burk.


Ken Meredith,
 Aka “The Love Man”


Solomon Burke with Kenneth Meredith at Pinkpop 2003





Remembering Solomon Burke

Musicians' Corner's Quote section quotes artists talking about music, and listens to tunes


(We believe the charming interviewer might have an earpiece...)



Solomon Burke, March 21, 1940 – October 10, 2010

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