No Plan B

Trumpeter and jazz studies major Tony Glausi

Trumpeter Glausi Flies without a Net

March 25, 2014—Tony Glausi is a man of contradictions. For one thing, he’s a top-flight jazz trumpeter who advocates for practicing less, not more, when the situation calls for it. “Reading and writing is as important as playing trumpet,” he says.

For another, “I don’t like to look at music like a competition,” Glausi explains, while simultaneously noting that, to hone his craft, “I like to compare myself to other people.”

Most contradictory of all, perhaps, at the age of nineteen, the jazz studies major has already placed in numerous competitions.

Just last weekend, Glausi placed first in the Yamaha Jazz Division of the National Trumpet Competition. He was named Outstanding College Performer and Outstanding College Trumpeter at the Reno Jazz Festival in April 2013. In addition, he won the Undergraduate College Outstanding Performance category from Downbeat magazine and placed third in the Jazz Division of the National Trumpet Competition, both in March 2013.

Glausi hails from a musically talented family. Born in Eugene, Glausi learned while growing up in Portland that all four of his grandparents had been professional musicians at one time or another. His mother is a professional piano player and accompanist, and most of his five siblings are musical. His father, the odd man out, is a business attorney.

Glausi began playing the piano at age six. It was on trumpet, however, that Glausi would meet his destiny, inspired by a cousin who played.

“Every family reunion we had, he’d pull the trumpet out and I always thought, ‘That’s so cool,’” Glausi remembers.

Green Came Naturally

Choosing a college proved to be a straightforward affair. “I had already planned on applying to the UO,” Glausi says—after all, both his parents are alumni.

When it came time to commit, says Glausi, a couple of items sealed the deal. First, Glausi says, in his senior year he received a call at home from Brian McWhorter, associate professor of trumpet, just to reach out and to talk about the trumpet program at the UO. That move, Glausi says, made the admission process seem more personal.

Second, Glausi is the recipient of a School of Music and Dance scholarship, which covers his tuition and pays Glausi a small stipend each year.

“It completely takes away the stress for me and my family,” notes Glausi. Plus, he says, “It make me feel good about the hard work in high school.”

That hard work—in both high school and college—will be put to the test this summer, as Glausi and the rest of the Oregon Jazz Ensemble, the UO’s big band, will travel to Europe to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival, and Vienne Jazz Festival.

Big Fish

Glausi says that, far from being a detriment to his training, Eugene’s smaller performing arts scene has been key in his development.

“I can’t go to the New York Philharmonic. I can’t go hear big bands in a club,” says Glausi. “But I can play in Eugene’s version of those places.”

“Because the environment allows me to play, I’ll be four years ahead when I graduate,” he adds—which he plans to do at an accelerated pace, after only three years as a student.

In fact, Glausi has not hesitated to enter “a freelance mentality,” as he terms it. Two days after moving to Eugene to begin his studies, Glausi reports, he was exploring The Jazz Station, a local independent club that frequently features UO jazz studies students. Glausi formed and now heads up a jazz combo called Six Cents that has performed at numerous venues in the area, including restaurants and a winery, in addition to the Station.

“I think a lot of students just get into a school niche,” Glausi says, “but the way you learn is to be assertive.”

Glausi isn’t the only assertive one. His father, ever the pragmatist, occasionally asks what sort of backup plan his son might be forming, if he later learns that music cannot support him.

“If you let yourself have a backup plan, you’ll default to it,” says Glausi. He taught music while in high school, and could see doing it again. In addition, he’s fairly certain he wants to go to graduate school. Gigging will always be a priority, as well. To Glausi, then, the options seem myriad.

“All of those would have to fail to have a backup plan,” he says.

--Aaron Ragan-Fore