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Trumpeter & Flugelhornist Pete Carroll

by Joe Dimino

Pete Carroll is staying active and making the best of what’s coming his way. He’s a veteran trumpeter and flugelhornist and he a member of the band, The Freedom Affair. Pete tours internationally, from Lee’s Summit with the Reverend Al Green.

In mid-March, how did you find out the world was beginning to go sideways?

In mid-March, my calendar was full of gigs that started disappearing. Broadway is not expected to open until September of 2021. This is going to be a long haul.

A positive thing has happened for you and Kansas City. Tell me how The Freedom Affair and their music in an Apple Watch campaign?

That's fantastic, man. The Freedom Affair is a nine-piece funk, soul and groove band, similar to Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings. Formed in 2017, by Chris Hazelton and drummer Dave Brick, the band features three vocalists, Misha Roberts, Seiko Groves and Paula Saunders. Brett Jackson and I are the horn section and there are 2 guitarists, Cole Bales and Branden Moser.

We recorded a single last year, that was picked up by Netflix. That led to Apple using us for their new Series 6 iWatch campaign. Chris Hazelton told us he had some really, really big news: Apple was going to use it for their newest campaign release on September 15 in conjunction with the release of our album on September 25. We were blown all away.

The Freedom Affair on inequality in America?

Our album couldn't have dropped at a better time, 2 tracks specifically caught people’s attention. Don't Shoot was written about Kansas City’s surging homicide record. On the chorus of our song, One Nation the lyric is, we'll never be one nation if we cannot have a conversation.

About coming out of Kansas City with this kind of national exposure?

Kansas City musicians are beginning to receive national exposure. We have been working on our album since 2017. It's a collaborative project and everyone brings something special to the band. The vocalists are terrific lyric writers, and exposure like this, helps to put Kansas City music, and our band on the map.

Your beginnings in music, where you were born and raised?

I was born in Philadelphia and I attended middle school, high school and college in Texas. I have a degree in music education from Baylor University.

Jazz started capturing my attention in middle school, staying up past my bed time to watch trumpeter Doc Serverinsen on The Tonight Show. He was my first music idol.

Wynton Marsalis and musicians that were on the scene in the 1990's were a huge influence on me. I love the freedom of jazz—it doesn't have any boxes you need to stay within.

I continued my education at Florida State University and I’ve received my master’s in jazz studies there, which led me to my career in touring.

Why Kansas City?

The best thing about Kansas City is the camaraderie between musicians. In other cities I’ve lived in, it seems musicians are all out there trying to get the gig. Kansas City isn’t like that. They are very supportive here. I can reach out to any trumpet player in the city and they’re helpful. It's not like someone’s trying to take somebody else’s gig. I love that about Kansas City.

Kansas City music was doing very well. Tell me your thoughts on recovery?

It couldn't come soon enough, honestly. There is so much being created behind the scenes that the audience is not hearing, yet. When we’re out there, and allowed to perform again, Kansas City will be flooding the market. Music from Eddie Moore, We The People, and so many other will be coming out of Kansas City.

What do you like the best about performing in Kansas City?

It's the musical conversations that you have between musicians on stage in a live setting. Something you don't get practicing at home. In a live performance, anything can happen, you open your ears and communicate with each other. I truly miss that.

The first live jazz that made you want to do this with your life?

It wasn't really a jazz show. It was Doc Severinsen, with the Waco Symphony Orchestra. The show had jazz elements, but the performance aspect, seeing Doc on-stage in front of a large ensemble, and his command of the audience . . . fantastic!

I was 11-years-old and mesmerized. I was like—I really want to do that. I want to have that feeling. Now, I am fortunate enough to do that.

What is your favorite thing about Kansas City?

Camaraderie and bar-b-que! There's a different breed of musician here. Everyone is so helpful. No one is out to get anyone. It's like a family. It's a great example of how we need to be everywhere, I absolutely love that.

Talk to me about Lee's Summit, MO.

I work as an insurance agent at the Valentine Insurance Agency in downtown Lee's Summit, MO. I have been getting involved with Lee's Summit’s jazz community. A great little downtown, right next to downtown Kansas City, you can get there in a heartbeat, but you keep the small-town vibe.

You’re Lead Trumpeter for the Reverend Al Green.

I have been his lead trumpeter since 2007. He has opened so many doors for me. He's a living legend, and it's been fantastic seeing the world, touring with Al.

What have you learned from Al Green?

I watch him perform, he really cares for the audience. He performs differently each night, like a chameleon, he can judge the crowd and keep their attention through the entire show. Of course, everyone is familiar with the song, Let's Stay Together, and when we do that, it changes on a nightly basis. I haven’t heard him sing the song the same way twice.

What is keeping you motivated now?

That would be gigs like performing with Reverend Al in Sydney, Australia. It was amazing to see that many people who all love Al. The show was outdoors and there were over 300,000 people. They broadcast us on the buildings of downtown Sydney. Until then I didn’t understand how much Al is loved around the world.

Once we return to live music, what about this time away from live music?

Cherish the moments you have. Don't take anything for granted. You don't know when, or if things are going to come to a halt again. As a performer, cherish the moments you have on stage with your peers. As an audience, take advantage of going to see all the live music you can. Without the support of the audience, we are not going to be anywhere anyways!

What can fans do to support musician’s needs?

Visit their social media pages. Buy their music on Band Camp or iTunes. That's the lifeline for musicians right now. Without funding and support, the music is just going to go away the same way that small businesses are beginning to go away.

Why do you love jazz?

I love the freedom of it. It's not specifically written down, so you don’t have to play jazz a certain way. You can make it your own, I love that about jazz.

If you got into a time machine and see jazz anywhere, where are you going?

Aw man, I'm going to the late 1960's to see Miles Davis or Freddie Hubbard, they’re my 2 favorites and biggest musical influences.

Everyone has a perception of you, who do you think you are?

I'm a hard worker. You can't get anywhere in life without putting in the work. I try to wake up and be positive every day. I help as many people as I can. That's what I do in Insurance, I’ll continue to do that, to help people during their times of need.

How healthy is jazz?

I have so many wonderful musical colleagues. This is their life. I know they’re struggling, and that things have been difficult for them. I try to be a listening ear for them, I'm blessed to have a second career and that helps to sustain me through this time.

On my drive to work each day, I wonder about the full-time musicians. I wonder how they are going to survive if this doesn't open up soon. I keep them in all my prayers on a daily basis. I really hope this all ends soon, so that we can get back to normalcy.

What words of optimism will you give your fellow musicians?

Keep putting in the work. This is temporary, and hopefully, we can get back to normalcy very, very soon. Don't give up. Things will be better in the future.

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