FB: So, okay, we're in Hawaii and you're having a great time with the band. CF: Yeah, but not good enough. I remember my parents came to visit me, my second year there, and I said, "Man, I gotta get out of here." I mean, I wasn't as good as I thought I was probably, but I was one of the star players. And Hawaii, I mean, there's nothing going on. FB: Pineapples and leis and good pork sandwiches. CF: Yeah, the best. I remember on campus they would dig pit pork -- put the pig in the -- right on campus. FB: Like Phil Wilson's yard in Belmont. CF: I know. Woooo. But anyway, I had to get out of there and I always had my sights set on Berklee. Always. When I was in high school, I remember. FB: What was the buzz on Berklee? CF: You know what? DownBeat magazine had all these great ads. And it looked appealing and I knew so and so had gone there, and so and so, and it was like, "I gotta go, man. This is the happening place." They got me. I knew it was the biggest music school, you know, contemporary thing. And I had a, finally in high school when I got a trumpet teacher, Max Kramer, he just passed away a couple of years ago. He was a great trumpet teacher, and he played jazz and classical. And I remember when I told him I wanted to go to Berklee, he said to me, "Oh, do you like rock 'n roll?" That's what he thought Berklee was. "Hey man, sure. I don't care, I just want to go where it's happening." My parents were not into that. They didn't want me to come into the big city and lose my way. So they said, "Okay, if you do it yourself, if you get a full scholarship." But basically they said, "Well, if you can do it, go for it, but we're not gonna..." So I bought the ticket--I remember at the time, man, I had a job in Hawaii and I saved up money, I was very good with money. So I saved up money, I bought a ticket. $600 airplane ticket. That to me, I was like, "That's the biggest!" and I didn't care I just paid for it, I got it. I went, flew to Boston from Hawaii, made the audition. Then I remember I was back in Hawaii and I got the letter, man. You know, "Congratulations, you've received a full tuition scholarship to go to Berklee." And I remember I called my mom, I told her. Silence on the other end of the line. Finally, "That's great, honey. So what are you gonna do?" [laughs] I mean, I was on the next flight out. FB: You did it. CF: I did it, man. I had to do to it, man. FB: Who was on your audition team? CF: Tom Plsek, and I don't remember who else. But I remember Tom -- so, he's the reason. FB: You wowed them. CF: He's the reason I'm here. And I, to this day, thank Tom for this, for giving me all these opportunities. FB: Woah. CF: That was just the beginning, being a student at Berklee was just the beginning of being a part of the whole vibe, the whole scene. FB: It was '99 when you got here? CF: Yeah. FB: And what happened in Boston? How did you adapt yourself from Ukiah and upstate Hawaii to the big, bad city of Boston? What was it like then? CF: You know, it was cool. I remember crying a lot, actually, the first semester I was here. FB: Why? CF: 'Cause I was freaked out. These cats can play, man. And it was like-- FB: You were a little fish in a big pond. CF: I'm thinking, "Can I do this, man?" And plus, I was shy then and so-- FB: I can hardly imagine you as shy. CF: I know, right? I was, I just like [shy face]. So, any attitude I got from dudes I was freaked out, and so I was intimidated, you know? But I just kept working. I knew I had it. I knew I just had to keep going. So I remember then, my second or third year at Berklee was just like, I couldn't get enough. FB: Were there -- in the the first year, in your acclimatization period -- were there tough classes, tough ensembles, you're saying, "I don't know if I can handle it." CF: No, it wasn't the classes. Those were cool. I mean, 'cause I was into it. That was why I was here. FB: So you were focused and disciplined, scholarly. CF: Definitely. I think I must have gotten straight A's most of the time that I was here, except my last year, I got a D in Counterpoint 2. FB: But the socializing was a little more difficult 'cause you were shy? CF: Yeah. Well, I was shy, but--I thought I was shy until I got to know somebody, but more than anything I was intimidated and I didn't think I was good enough. And that can really eat away at you. But I just kept practicing, kept getting into it, and I played in the good bands and, you know, just stay focused. FB: What were some of the good bands? CF: My favorite was probably Phil Wilson's Rainbow Band, because those charts are so swinging. And he was such a great teacher to me. I still to this day follow his example as a bandleader, because the way he talks to people, he's in charge, but it's not -- to me, at that stage -- it wasn't an arrogant thing. “Cats, this is how it goes.” Man, he would sit down at the drumset and play for this cat. This old school, this big dude, Deon Harrison, this guy, big black dude, gospel, killing, but there was one thing he wasn't getting one day. Phil Wilson goes and takes-- "Now, move." He takes the brushes, gives him exactly what we're looking for and the bass player is grooving. I mean it's Phil, this cat. Nobody does-- FB: Music coming out of his fingertips. CF: Yeah, and then he sits down at the piano and tells the guy how to be more simple. It's old school. FB: He's a Basie fan. CF: Totally. FB: Herb was the Ellingtonian, but Phil loved Basie. CF: Right. That's right. FB: Wow. Phil could talk to people. He didn't intimidate. He was in charge, as you say, but relaxed, personable. CF: Yeah, he's one of the--he's ordinary folk. He's a cat walking down the street. FB: And funny. CF: Yeah. FB: Great sense of humor. CF: The best. And I remember the first time I was in the band, he heard me at a recital, he heard me sing something. Every semester I would have a recital, 'cause I was always playing. Every night I was playing with the band. I had my own bands all of the time, just doing stuff. He came to a recital and he heard me sing, so that's why he invited me to play with the band. I remember, I'm playing third trumpet, or fourth -- something, you know, an inner part -- after the first rehearsal. "Okay, babe, rehearsal's over." He points at me, "Babe, you've got to get your breathing together." You know, in front of everyone. Of course I was like [acts embarrassed]. But I got it together. But he was hearing me from third trumpet. FB: Yeah. He had those kind of antennae. CF: Yeah, man. FB: Shotgun-like ears. What was some of the other cool bands, other than Phil's? CF: Greg Hopkins Jazz Orchestra. Only was in that for a while. That was a tough one 'cause they rehearsed twice a week. I think that by the time I was done, I was playing in eight ensembles a semester. FB: Yikes. CF: This one here. This one there. This one here. All this. Everything. FB: You were all over the place. CF: Big bands. I just loved it. I had to. I wanted to. Plus my own thing. I had an all-female big band when I was at Berklee. FB: What? Before Diva? CF: Yeah, because there's a woman's show, right? So I said, "Hey, I'm gonna get an all-female big band." That was crazy. See, it only lasted one year, 'cause I couldn't keep it going. I had to play lead trumpet, I'm not a lead player. There are no chicks around who could... FB: We're talking about a fifteen-woman band? CF: Oh yeah. Yes, Aiko Fukushima was the writer. I think I got her last name right. She wrote tunes for us, a jazz comp major. Carey Harris was the lead trombone player, we were in school together. She's in LA now, teaching at USC, I think. Damn, who else? There was a chick from Germany, a drummer, Sonja. Ayla Davila, who I went to high school with, played bass. FB: She was in Hawaii? CF: No, high school, Ukiah. So I got all these cats to play, man. Hey, that was cool. FB: Is the proper term 'kittens'? [both laugh with all their heart] FB: So that's a gas. So that’s a lot of organization and determination to pull that together. CF: I was crazy, man. I wouldn't do that now. I mean it's tough to get it together. FB: So there was Phil's band, Greg's band, your band. CF: And I had a quintet, I had my own. FB: A few other small ensembles. Who were some of your hip teachers? Or the hip trumpeters around? CF: Yeah, man. You know, I studied actually with Ken Cervenka my first year. He is so old school. He's so cool. FB: He's the Miles-y thing. CF: He's got it. This cat. He's cool. FB: A lot of flugelhorn. CF: Yeah, sure. He's got that sound, he's got that mellow sound. But I wanted to keep my classical stuff strong. I knew that was important. So I switched to study with Charlie Lewis, and I studied with him for the duration, as well as Tiger Okoshi. And those cats were great. It was what I needed. Tiger was... FB: Is it a matter of discipline, or harder, different kinds of exercises or...? CF: Yeah, good point. You know, Charlie, he really, really changed my stuff around, chop-wise. Before I studied with Charlie I would wake up, "Oh, it's working. Glad it's working. Cool." Or the next day, "Why isn't it working? I don't know, feels bad." FB: Like the mechanics of a pitcher. Some days you've got it, some days you don't. CF: Right, but with Charlie, I realized you can make it more consistent. It's not always going to be perfect, but there are ways to make, like, you know it's going to work. And he's like one of these guys, like, he'll say it like this [gestures like a prophet], rather than like this [points finger]. FB: Cosmic. CF: Yeah, man. So I dug that a lot. Because he'll never really say something literally, it's like, "Ah, I see what you're saying." And maybe I wouldn't realize what he was saying until I'm practicing what he meant, or things like that. FB: Oblique, analogous kind of thing. CF: And just very cool. He was the best teacher I had, seriously, for trumpet. Yeah, exercises, he gave me all sorts of etudes, but also how to use them. 'Cause that's a big thing I noticed with teachers through my life: "Here, do this." Well, how? why? You know, right? "Here's a book. Play this book." When? Why? Trumpet players, man. If you're not resting, you can mess things up a lot, if you don't know how to practice. Charlie really helped me with that stuff. FB: Great. Speaking of resting, when did you start singing? CF: Oh man, singing. You know, it's funny, 'cause I grew up singing. So I was in the womb, I know. So, when wasn't I singing? But, professionally, I guess, I got some confidence here at Berklee, because people heard me and, "Hey, you're good come sing with the band." So I realized, "Hey, I could do this too." So, now, if I'm not playing I'm singing. Or now, all my gigs, I take both, I play trumpet and I sing, mostly. I've always been singing. FB: But singing professionally, it emerged at the same time as the horn playing? Were you singing in any of those three bands that you mentioned? It never came up? CF: Phil's band, I sang some solos, you know. But no, otherwise, I was a trumpet player. And a lot of time, people didn't even know that I sang, which is kind of how I wanted it. I wanted to be a trumpet player, but now I realise I make good money singing, so I'm doing it, you know?