Johnny Glasel

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Skilled trumpeter Johnny Glasel has a smattering of recordings under his own name, including the 1959 John Glasel Brasstet venture as well as Westchester Workshop, a polite-sounding title released some…
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Skilled trumpeter Johnny Glasel has a smattering of recordings under his own name, including the 1959 John Glasel Brasstet venture as well as Westchester Workshop, a polite-sounding title released some 45 years later. The development of this artist's style involved a mixture of classical and classic jazz approaches. Glasel graduated from the Yale School of Music in the early '50s, went to work for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and also played in several chamber music groups. He had already begun playing jazz as well, however, beginning with mid-'40s gigs with reedman and bandleader Bob Wilbur.

With venues such as Radio City Music Hall providing bread-and-butter jobs, Glasel was able to work into established combos such as an outfit known as the Six, which worked at Ryan's, and a Glenn Miller project fronted by drummer and singer Ray McKinley. During the late '50s the trumpeter worked in the orchestra of progressive jazz maestro Bill Russo, but was most likely heard by much larger audiences when holding forth in the pit band of shows such as The Bells are Ringing and the snoozy Once Upon a Mattress.

Inevitably, the combination of classical chops and New Orleans jazz sympathies led to a trumpet style combining the warmth of Louis Armstrong with the speed of Dizzy Gillespie. The most famous modern jazz record he plays on is probably Into the Hot by Gil Evans. Glasel also plays on pop and vocal music sessions, much of his work in this capacity going uncredited. What is known is that he is a factor in both John Denver and Astrud Gilberto sides. On par with the good vibes particularly credited to the former artist were Glasel's later activities as president of the New York City Musicians' Union Local 802. He was elected in the early '80s and is credited with swinging, an appropriate term indeed, the sympathies of the organization toward the working jazz musician. He kept this position until 1992.