Singled Out: Trixter's Mark Gus Scott's Ave Maria

Mark Gus Scott

Trixter's Mark Gus Scott recently marked the anniversary of 9/11 by releasing his version of Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" and asked him to tell us about the emotion cover. Here is the story:

Ave Maria is the first song I ever recorded using my trumpet as the lead voice. One thing is for sure, making the transition from a Trixter rock 'n' roll maniac to refined pop-classical trumpeter is something that makes people's heads twist! I laugh about it, but from the perspective of fans that I've interacted with, the response I get is most puzzling. I don't think anyone's ever done something like this. It's funny, I actually played trumpet long before I started playing drums. My mother was a classical musician and wanted to instill those qualities in me as a young child. I started on piano when I was about seven years old. I really wasn't into it back then but I'm glad she started me off on piano. Today it helps me immensely when it comes to songwriting and having a visual reference for music in general. It really is the best way to start when you're becoming a musician. But try telling that to a 7-year-old kid.

After piano I started trumpet when I was approximately 11 years old. I really don't know why I chose trumpet. I was in the backseat of my parent's car on my way to my first drum lesson and something called out to me about the horn. To this day I really don't know what the hell it was. As I went to high school I guess I got pretty good. I was in the NJ All-State Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra. I received a Certificate of Excellence from the National Association of Jazz Educators and attended the University of Hartford HARTT School of Music when I was just a sophomore in high school. Truly amazing experiences! I recorded three double live records of classical music at HARTT. Playing with some of the best musicians in the country. Particularly considering that everyone was a high school kid, it truly was an amazing experience that I treasure to this day.

Pete Loran, the singer of Trixter and I were doing some sound effects work for a video game based on a big movie out of China called the monkey king. Now, coming up with unique sounds all day can get pretty monotonous. It certainly can be very draining on your creative juices. At one point in time, Pete looked over at me and said, "Hey, go get that trumpet out of your car and let's see what it sounds like." He threw up a couple of Mike's and I played for about 15 minutes. We went to the control room to listen back. After tinkering with it for about five minutes, we looked at each other and said, "Holy crap! That sounds pretty good!"

Being classically trained, I was always familiar with the song Ave Maria, but it was only later in life that something really touched me about it. I was a big fan of the TV series "The West Wing". There was one episode that they featured the song and it really made a very big impact. Those guys know how to make a show! Additionally, even more recently, the "Hitman" franchise (wildly popular video games that spawned a couple of big Hollywood movies) utilized the song as a promo juxtaposition employing slow-motion action sequences of killing scenes from the movie over the beautiful song's melody. There was an angelic voice that did the singing. They really did a great job. I wanted to bring a feeling like that to people. This song really started to speak to me but Lord knows, I couldn't sing like that! But what would it sound like with trumpet? This was the big test - to see if my playing could come anywhere close to delivering that feeling that I had inside. After assembling the backing track, Peter and I went into the studio again to lay down the lead trumpet part. We both were not sure that this was going to work. I just recorded the first half of the song in one take and I immediately wanted to listen back to it. After two minutes of a quick EQ and rough mix, Peter and I both looked at each other... yeah, we did something right. It sounded so beautiful. Something that we have never produced before. Certainly a hell of a lot different in the rock 'n' roll lunacy that we are used to recording. I know, it sounds like a revelation or religious experience. There really is something special about that song. I really like the way it came out on the CD and it has been so very well received that I cant believe it! I am also honored to donate all the proceeds from that song to Hope 4 Kids International and the wonderful work they do for children all around the world. Check them out @ www.H4KI.org.

I take all of these experiences and education and utilize it in creating my new album, "Christmas Miracle". The idea that I actually got to use all the stuff after years of collecting it in my head is such an amazing experience for me now. I'm so happy and proud with the way everything was performed and produced on this latest effort� and with trumpet as the lead voice! There's actually a lot of chamber music oriented stuff. Things you might hear from the Empire Brass or Canadian Brass. I think one thing that makes Christmas Miracle stand out is the harmonies that you hear. I did a lot of
layering trumpet parts, violins, cellos, etc. to create a wall of sound and some real Angelic tones. I can't tell you how much it really floods my soul with joy to hear all those harmonies come out. Certainly apropos for Christmas time. Lots of countermelodies and contrary motion. I really hope people enjoys it as much as I do.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself right here!

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