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The Gig: Laurie Frink

Requiem for a Brass Saint

Laurie Frink

Some jazz musicians wield a significance far greater than the conventional benchmarks of achievement-solo discographies, headline engagements, awards and honors-would seem to suggest. Laurie Frink, who died on July 13 at 61, after a long struggle with cancer, was emphatically one of these.

A trumpeter who found her place in the music as a crackerjack section player, she never released an album under her own name. But she was an essential fixture in the Maria Schneider Orchestra and several other state-of-the-art big bands, notably the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society. And for more than one generation of trumpeters who sought her counsel, she fell somewhere between a sideline coach and a mountaintop guru, with maybe a wry touch of the stand-up comic. It’s for her contribution as a mentor and instructor that Frink will probably be best remembered, but there’s no category for that in the critics’ polls.

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