Forrest Helmick

Dear Flip:

Forbidden Fruit at 8,000 Feet

I am a music educator, and founder of the Blue Street Jazz Band. My first time playing the Wild Thing was when Flip first started to market them. We were both performing at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee about ten years ago when he walked up and handed me this beautiful trumpet to try. At that time the horn was forbidden fruit–I had no money available to buy a new horn. I knew as I played it that this is a horn that I would own. It had what I liked–a free and open sound like my Claude Gordon trumpet. It was better than my CG horn. I also knew financially that I shouldn’t get attached to it. I had to hand it back and say no to Flip’s introductory offer. I wished had the money back then!

In 2001, I began to research different trumpets to eventually buy one in the future. The Internet was buzzing with articles about new trumpets, scientific analysis, note slotting, cryogenic treatments, etc. I came across Flip Oakes web page after reading a review of the Wild Thing trumpet. Wow, what a web site. Obviously, Flip was having great success with his new horn that I once tried way back when.

I emailed Flip and asked if I could try out the Wild Thing at a weekend jazz festival where we were both appearing. It turned out to be the 2001 Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee. That’s at 8,000 feet! If I like the horn at 8,000 feet, I’ll like it anywhere. He brought up a hand picked, new silver model for me. From the first performance, I knew that I had myself the horn I wanted. Even at that altitude, it has a responsive, consistent sound from the low to high register.

My sound was fat and buttery with my medium small mouthpiece. It responded like a new sports car and gave me courage to jump around with new ideas. I would venture to say that it was easier to play.

Members of the Blue Street Jazz Band commented: “Forrest, that horn rocks. Buy it! Whoa. Ya gotta get it! Don’t save up. Get a loan!” The best thing that I heard was after the Saturday night set. It was from Flip: “I’ve never heard you sound better. I want you to take this horn home with you.” I found a way to buy it when I got home. It was worth it. I got the gold plating added too.

The rest is history–more gigs and recording sessions. I love to let other trumpet players try my once “forbidden fruit.” They do react with those short astonished descriptions. That’s how the horn got its name.

Forrest Helmick
Blue Street Jazz Band

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