top of page
  • Writer's pictureNick Drozdoff

Phoenix Project

I am writing to give SOME context to what I am working on right now. I'm not ready to share EVERYTHING, just yet, for fear of how folks might react. So, for now, I'll just say that I was seriously laid up last summer (2020) and I was told that it would take a year to get back to normal and my playing might never be the same, if I played at all.

I won't go into all of the details here for how I was rehabbing. That would be of no interest to trumpet players or music people and would only sound like self-serving whining and self pity on my part. Sometimes I get to talking about it with folks when I'm out in public, and when I hear myself, I realize how awful it sounds, so I've been trying to keep my mouth shut. I only bring things up when musicians I am working with feel that I am falling short of their expectations of the professional level they are expecting of me so they won't think I have deliberately let things go (it's actually quite the opposite!).

So I started the Phoenix Project, which if my next recording effort. Again, the possibility of never playing again was looming out there, but I was never going to just accept that lying down. Yes, I had to fight incredible discouragement and depression for the first 6 months, or so, and I am STILL (as of this writing) working on getting my confidence back. In any case a Phoenix is the legendary, mythical bird that bursts into flames and just when you think it's gone, it rises anew from the ashes of its previous existence. I see the Phoenix for as a metaphor ME. Hence the name of my little project.

I've already posted one of my post trauma projects, with Country Road. I'll post it again, here, at the bottom. I hope you'll listen to it and just enjoy the music.

My latest piece is a recording of Steve Wiest's composition/arrangement, DD Quizbone. I play ALL of the horn parts, using an electronic valve instrument to play the sax parts by driving the sax samples that come bundled with Logic Pro. I also used the EVI to play some of the bass trombone notes that did't fit on my bass trumpet. I played the bulk of the trombone parts with my bass trumpet and all of the trumpet parts.

YES, there are many punches on this and the solo parts were done after MANY takes, but this project is part of my rebuilding efforts, and I make NO APOLOGIES for having to do that. I'm happy with the progress represented here. On another point: I like high notes a lot. I'm a trumpeter, after all, BUT I am sick and tired of having my work devolve into an athletic event, so I'm using them only minimally and where it seems appropriate musically, (seems appropriate to ME, for what it is worth). In any case, this take on DD Quizbone was done almost exactly a year after the unfortunate event that set me back so devastatingly.


The first part of the Phoenix Project was my take on the old Maynard Ferguson chart on Jame's Taylor's, Country Road. To be clear, that recording was completely finished (the audio) by June 7, 2020. I was planning on laying down the solo part that Sunday, but unfortunately, I got blasted by the unexpected trauma that Sunday. I didn't even touch a horn for a month, and then when I started carefully coming back, it was only on flugelhorn. I started thinking about EVI, at that point, because, I was considering the possibility that I might never play trumpet again. More on that later.

I had to battle depression and discouragement, but with a lot of help from family and friends, I labored on, and got back to a marginal level of playing at 6 months. This is when I finally played my flugel solo on Country Road. I had to memorize my solo and played it hundreds of times before I got a take I was willing to keep.


I didn't put in any videos of myself playing the trumpet parts because I didn't record any of them after the unfortunate event. I just felt uncomfortable about it.

Now a word about the EVI. I started thinking about it at a month or so into my recovery, when the thought that i might now play trumpet again was lurking in the back of my mind. It was a real struggle to keep that thought at bay. I talked to my wife about investing in one, but she pushed back, telling that we'd consider getting one ONLY when my trumpet comeback as solidly established and IF I REALLY wanted to add it to my arsenal of horns or horn like gear. In the end that is what I did. Playing the EVI is a lot of fun and opens up added horizons for me, but my wife did't want me to just cave into discouragement. I'm so grateful for her support and the support of my kids. My son (the keyboard player in the videos) was just like "well, yeah, you're gonna be fine dad. It's just a matter of time. Don't worry about it." My daughter was treating me like nothing had happened. My friends and colleagues on gigs and in the biz have been, by and large, TOTALLY supportive and EXPECTING me to get better. It has been most encouraging.

I had a good friend who went through the same traumatic experience in May of 2021. We have spoken a few times and texted quite a bit. He has lamented that he'll never play again (he's a sax player), but I encouraged him NOT to jump to that conclusion so fast. My progress was very non linear and frustrating, at first, but accelerating as time goes on. I'm doing kettle bell training, HIIT workouts and weight lifting, in addition to hours of daily practice and taking ear training classes. I'm down 42 pounds from a year ago, and I'm targeting 10 more, but grateful for THAT progress. I'm hoping that I can encourage him to hang in there by example, and not let fear and depression take over his life. It tried to for me, but with daily hard work I can keep those demons at bay, and I want my friend to do the same. Yes, he is working with professional therapists, but I hope to offer friendly encouragement to stay the course.

One last thing. I have had COMPLETE STRANGERS who follow my work online offer their prayers of support for me. I find that most heartening and refreshing in this day and age of division in our country. It sure gives me hope. I'm not so delusional to think that I have lots of followers, but I have a few, and I appreciate the sincere, nonjudgemental support.

That's all I have for today. I'm on to part 3 of the Phoenix Project, which will be an original piece. Onward!


185 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page