My Jazz Solo

My Jazz Solo

I first started to learn the trumpet when I was in the fifth grade. I can remember that at the end of the fourth grade year, a local band director came into the classroom with several instruments. There was a violin, clarinet, snare drum, alto saxophone, flute and trumpet. To me nothing beat the bright sunny noise of the trumpet and I had to learn how to play.

Like all young musicians, my interest was not strong on practicing. Especially in the early days when it was often just learning scales and very basic songs. When I moved into my seventh grade year, I was at a new school and found myself with seven other trumpet players. While I wasn’t the worst, I was closer to that end of the line than the front. My band director asked me if I would try switching to euphonium (think mini tuba). I was skeptical, but tried it. The transition was easy and soon I was excelling.

In high school I switched to tuba and actually became quite good. I loved playing the bass line for the rock songs and in most orchestral pieces spent a lot of time counting measures between notes.

My senior year I joined the Jazz band and unfortunately the tuba was not considered a jazz instrument, so I found myself with a trumpet back in my hands. In every song a subset of us would take turns improvising a solo. My first months of attempts were either very timid or just plain wrong. They didn’t fit the song. Wanting to get better, I kept listening to those whose solos were great.

The best solos were variations on the theme of the song. They weren’t measures from the song, but they were very close to them. You could hear the theme of the song within the solo and it just worked. Eventually I learned to do this for a few songs, but the concept of variations of a theme stuck with me.

In some cases, cooking has a variation on a theme. This dish takes the Mashed Blue Cauliflower to the next level. Think of it as my jazz solo.

Cauliflower Stuffed Portobello Caps

1 large Portobello mushroom cap per person

1/2 head cauliflower

3-4 green onions

1/2 C bacon bits (leave out for kosher or vegetarian versions)

1/3 C milk

1 C shredded cheddar cheese

pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrape out the inside of the cape to remove the stem and gills.

Chop the green onions.

Chop the cauliflower into large pieces. Steam for 6-8 minutes. Place hot cauliflower into a food processor and puree. Add milk as needed to achieve a mashed potato-like consistency. Add pepper to taste. Mix with bacon and onions.

Fill caps with cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar. Place on a cookie sheet and into the oven until the cheese melts and the mushrooms are hot (about 5 minutes).



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