There is no shortage of amazing brass players in the world. There are those whose technical prowess is just simply unbelievable. However, I find that these technical feats are not really what I’m drawn to while listening to performances.
One of my first trumpet teachers, Derek Smith, said in the liner notes to his CD, Heavenly Gales, that his playing was always about the message behind the music. In his case, playing for the Salvation Army Staff Band, it was about the Christian message. When I listen to his recordings, I hear the love that he has for the Savior, coming through in the melodies he plays. It is the message that draws me in, and I believe, countless others as well.
Another great musician, Samuel Hsu once said, “Technique is nothing; love is everything.” Without the personal expression of the performer, there is something missing in the music. Sure, it may sound good, but it won’t touch the listener.
There is a wonderful recording by Derek Smith’s son, Philip Smith, of the Gershwin tune, Someone to Watch Over Me. Even though it was originally intended as a secular tune, I feel that Phil has made it about the Lord watching over him, in his daily life. It may just be my own feelings, but have a listen for yourself.