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Winter NAMM 2002

Outside Winter NAMM 2002

Since its inception in 1902, the National Association of Musical Merchants’ trade show has been a place for members of the musical instrument industry to show off their latest toys, talk with dealers, the music press and each other and discuss what they consider to be their chief mission in life: to make music sound good. Over the years, as the sound of music and the gear that makes that music evolved, the show has become a larger and larger event-or events, actually, a show in winter and one in summer. Winter NAMM finds its home in the Anaheim Convention Center, just a couple blocks from Disneyland where plenty of folk who know nothing of B-3s, Mark VIs, SM57s or 335s wait patiently in the California sun to get their picture taken with strangers in mouse suits.

Of course, at the NAMM show people wait in line to get their picture taken with some funny-looking characters, too, including lysergic funkster George Clinton and drummer Travis Barker from pop-punk trio Blink 182, a kid running short on real estate for more tattoos. Barker’s name may ring unfamiliar to jazz fans, but sitting next to him and his tattoos at a Zildjian-sponsored signing was the ever-swinging Louie Bellson-and his Sharpie was getting just as much action as Barker’s was. NAMM hasn’t forgotten jazz, and there were a number of instruments introduced at this past January’s show that offer jazz musicians a wider realm of possibilities to achieve the perfect sound. Here are some of the highlights.

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