Inspired at an early age by the Big Bands of the ’30s and ’40s, I grew up listening to my parents albums. My Grandfather played the accordion, my mother played the piano, and my older brother played guitar. After seeing one of my school friends carrying a trumpet, I was soon allured to a life of music. My first and primary instrument has been trombone, primarily because the 6th grade band director needed trombonists. Entering High School, I was immediately thrown into the big band repertoire of Count Basie, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis. This was my first love, and today, still is. But man cannot live on Big Band music alone. Over the years, my tastes for music have been wide and varied…
Attending the Berklee College of Music in 1979, enlightened me to a new repertoire of music. Primarily through my brother, I learned of Frank Zappa, Yes, The Mahivishnu Orchetra, Chick Corea, Carla Bley any many others including some of the classical composers.
I first arrived in New Orleans in 1982 rather accidentally through the way of a Navy enlistment. Upon an early dismissal of my choosing, I quickly fell into good company, namely the world-renowned saxophonist, Al Belletto, Tony Dagradi, Steve Masakowski and Ellis Marsalis; and was adopted as a first call sideman in town. Though this however, was short-lived; I contracted a case of wander-lust.
After my divorce from the “Canoe Club” I felt that I needed a vacation. That vacation lasted 3 years, whereupon I took a job planting pine seedlings throughout the Southeast United States. It was arduous work, but it made for a very therapeutic lifestyle. I lived in a camper equipped with a Casio keyboard, drum machine, a four track cassette recorder and sequencer, all powered by 2 marine batteries. This is where I started writing my own music, Early in the morning, before heading out to the field, I would drink a pot or two of French Market chicory coffee (black) smoke a little weed, and aptly portray the likes of the stereotypical drifting crazy artist. I planted during the winter months, and during the summer, I would hang out on a friends farm in NW Arkansas, living in an old school bus. At that time in my life, it was quite idyllic. The money I made during the winter, sustained me until the next season. But as they say, “All good things must come to an end.” Maybe so, but honestly, you couldn’t keep me down on the farm.
One fine day, I got a call from one of my fellow musicians in New Orleans, asking if I might be available to work on the Steamboat Mississippi Queen cruising up and down the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Paul, as well as the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. Well, it didn’t take me long to decide, as I could see the writing on the wall. I did this gig for several years. This of course, eventually planted me back in New Orleans, where I have resided ever since. I quickly started working regularly in every capacity imaginable.
Since then, I have led a variety of groups including the jazz/rock group ”Neslort” as a vehicle for my original compositions. A perennial favorite for 3 consecutive years at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, “Neslort” has featured some of the finest musicians in town, and has released 3 CD’s. In 2003, I traveled to Rio de Janeiro to record “Gringo Do Choro”, which features primarily Choro music from the early part of the 20th century. It wasn’t until after hurricane Katrina that I recorded the traditional music of New Orleans. In 2006 & 2007, I released “New Orleans Lullaby” and “Sunrise on Bourbon Street.” Then, in 2011, I recorded yet another CD featuring Neslort entitled “Mystical Scam.” My traditional jazz group “The New Orleans Po’Boys”, released it’s 1st CD in October 2013, featuring an even mix of traditional New Orleans’ favorites as well as my own original compositions.
As a freelance trombonist I have enjoyed featured performances with all walks of the local music life; contemporary and traditional jazz, blues, reggae, big bands, show music, avante garde, and club dates. Performing and/or recording with Dr.John, Clarence ”Gatemouth” Brown, Joe Sample and the Crusaders, Gino Vannelli, Wayne Newton, Earl King, Marva Wright, Allen Toussaint, Al Hirt, The Dukes of Dixieland, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow, Henry Mancini, Rosemary Clooney, Bonerama, Tony Bennett, Frankie Valli, Stan Musial (yes, the baseball great), Steve Allen, The Woody Herman Band, Johnny Mathis, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Al Grey, Barry Manilow, Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, The Four Tops, Doc Severinsen, Johnny Cash, Harry Connick Jr., the CAC Jazz Orchestra, directed by Ellis Marsalis and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra directed by the infamous Irvin Mayfield, as well as many others that I don’t care to mention. Yada Yada Yada….
- 10/12/18 Rick Trolsen’s Neslorchestra in Pensacola, Florida at Pensacola State College