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Dave Stahl
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Frequently Asked Questions

Did you ever play with Maynard Ferguson?

Dave responds: No. We shared the bandstand on many occasions when I was playing with Woody Herman and Buddy Rich and I was involved in the Inter. Brass Conference's special tribute to Maynard but I never played on his band or with him in another capacity. At one point there was communication over me leaving Woody and joining Maynard but that was thwarted. I still to this day wish that I would have had the opportunity to play with Maynard.

Did you ever play with Stan Kenton?

Dave responds: No. Once again I came close to doing so. About a year and a half before Stan's death he called me one day to join his band. He said: "Dave, this is Stan Kenton." I said: "Sure. Who's calling?" He said: "Dave, this IS Stan Kenton!" So I believed him and we talked. He was supposed to get back to me with details and confirmation and never did. In the meantime I got called for Englebert Humperdinck and then about 3 days before the band was going out on the road Stan finally called again assuming that I was coming out to join the band. I explained that I never heard from him again and that I was hired in the meantime so I couldn't join his band . He had been ill at the time of his calls to me and it was affecting him mentally so I'm sure that was the reason for the confusion. Nevertheless another opportunity to play with one of the great leaders was lost.

Who was in the Basie band when you first joined the band?

Dave responds: Basie had started to carry 5 trumpets at the time so the band had Sonny Cohn, Frank Szabo, Pete Minger, Waymond Reed, myself on trumpets; Mel Wanzo, Al Grey, Curtis Fuller, and Bill Hughes on trombones; Bobby Plater, Danny Turner, Jimmy Forrest, Eric Dixon, and Charlie Fowlkes on saxes; Freddie Green, John Heard, and Butch Miles in the rhythm section.

Was Buddy Rich really like the stories that you hear about him?

Dave responds: Yes for the most part — of course depending on what stories you've heard. Buddy was one of only a few real geniuses that I have met in my life. His ability on the drums was in my estimation never witnessed before his life, during his life, and to this day that I speak, in anyone else. He had an astounding memory, hearing and set of chops. He was a perfectionist. He demanded it of himself and sought that in his band. So, quite often his wrath would be leveled on some one or some people for not measuring up to standards. But I must note that he didn't expect anyone to play beyond their ability, just up to it. Buddy and I had our differences but they were mainly off the bandstand. I am part of one the tapes making the rounds. That was an incident that took place in Disneyland at the end of my last time on the band. Everything was resolved, though, and I left on good terms. Believe me, there was no other thrill like that created by Buddy's drumming.

What leader or band did you like best?

Dave responds: Each band that I've played has been a good musical experience for me in one way or another. It's very hard to pin down the one band that I enjoyed the most since I have many fond memories of each band that I've played. Woody's band was my first and I was an immature 24 year old trying to find my worth. I'm not proud of the way I handled myself during my tenure with Woody and I wish that it would have been different since I really enjoyed what Bill Chase did for that band and would have liked to have done the same. The Basie band was a wonderful learning experience and probably Basie would have to get the call as my favorite leader. He was just a prince of a man. Buddy's band was a high-powered experience. The 2 hot seats on any big band are the lead trumpet and drummer. Buddy and I had the same feelings musically and we had a lock when we played. The band was great and Buddy loved the band.

Who are your favorite lead trumpet players?

Dave responds: Bill Chase with the Woody Herman band. Bill set a unique style and stamp on the band that's very hard for any lead player to be able to do. He did it and did it well. Chet Ferretti with Maynard Ferguson. Chet had a sound that had a buzz that just sizzled. That sound had life and excitement in it and created that in the sound of the band. Arnie Chycoski with Rob McConnell's band. Arnie's another lead player with a sound that's on fire. He's consistent , accurate, and has great interpretation.

Who's your favorite jazz player?

Dave responds: There are so many great jazz trumpeters today that it would be very hard to pick a favorite but over the course of history my absolute favorite is Clifford Brown. Clifford's ideas , harmonic prowess, technical chops on the horn were all superior. The manner in which he formed his solos is what appeals to me especially. You know he just always seemed to play exactly what you would want to hear at that moment in the solo. But above all, Clifford's sound was the killer. I love the sound he got.

What was your best musical experience?

Dave responds:  Again this could be tough to answer. I've had some very good moments in my musical life. Perhaps the one that would stand out the most would be my times with Frank Sinatra when I was on Woody's band. At that time we traveled around the country doing concerts with Frank and did the "Main Event" TV show in NYC. The band and orchestra was just first rate. Frank was singing great , the charts were great, everything was being run in a first class manner and Irv Cottler (Frank's drummer) and I locked in like mad. Tremendous musical moments with the best voice ever.

How did Abee Cake Records come about?

Dave responds: When I recorded the first time with my NY band, I had to have a record label as mandated by industry regulations. Getting attached to a record label is easier said than done. So I determined to form my own record label.  What name do I use for it?  Well, there were several considerations, all of which had some significance to my upbringing and home and I decided upon Abee Cake Records. Abee Cake is a pronunciation twist on a breakfast cake that is indigenous to my home area. My Mom was a great cook and baker and she made these cakes on a regular basis. I liked the ring to it and my cousin, Paul Stahl, made up the logo for it.