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Chops: Secrets of the Sonic Trumpet

Trumpeters Rob Mazurek and Cuong Vu share their insight into electronics

Photo of Rob Mazurek for Chops column on Sonic Trumpet
Rob Mazurek (photo by Antonio Rossa)

You could credit a kind of musical peer pressure for the earliest electronic experiments of trumpeter-cornetist Rob Mazurek and trumpeter Cuong Vu. Mazurek, renowned for his work with experimental groups from Chicago and Brazil, was a member of Isotope 217°, a spin-off of the post-rock group Tortoise; Vu, a celebrated avant-jazz bandleader and an alum of the Pat Metheny Group, was playing in a college fusion band. Both discovered that their raw horn sound didn’t allow them to blend with the range of timbres available to their guitar, synth and electronics-playing cohorts.

“I was trying to figure out a way to broaden the sound spectrum with an instrument that can only play one note at a time,” Mazurek says, while Vu simply shrugs, “I just didn’t feel like my sound fit very well.” As it happens, both took their first steps into effects by plugging their microphones into a BOSS delay pedal, and both recall remarkably similar reactions.

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