Richard Wieder (1978) Trombone
Autobiographical Sketch

Ed. Note: Rich Wieder was a member of the 1977 and 1978 New Trier West High School Recording Jazz Ensembles.

It was the fall of 1971 when I started sixth grade at Locust Junior High. I had decided to switch from trumpet to low brass (mainly baritone and tuba) because of my braces. I heard about jazz band from our music director, Mr. Cappetto. So, I decided to buy a used trombone for $50. It was a piece of junk but functional. I will never forget my first jazz band practice. I heard Bobby Cohen (then in eighth grade) play the trumpet solo on Chicago’s “Make Me Smile.” I was awe-struck. I had played classical piano for five years before then but hearing that song and playing various styles of jazz music with 15-20 other horn and rhythm players, grabbed my attention like nothing before. Then, the next summer, the New Trier West High School Jazz Ensemble won the international Montreux Jazz Festival Competition. From that day forward, my whole goal in life was to play in that band.

Fast forward three years to my freshman year at NTW. I fondly remember the concert and jazz lab bands. They established the foundation that served me well in the years ahead. I knew that I needed a better horn and decided that bass ‘bone would serve me well. I decided to purchase a Conn 73H double trigger bass ‘bone which I still use today.

One of the greatest highlights of high school took place when Roger Mills asked me to play with the Recording Jazz Ensemble, at the Ravinia Park, Highland Park, Illinois, for their July 4, 1976, festival. That was my first chance to play with the “big band” and was the biggest thrill I ever had up to that point in time.

I still cherish the memories, of my fellow bandmates, and the camaraderie that we developed, during my four years at New Trier West. I recall my one failed attempt at directing the band. We were playing “Big Schwing Face” and I was complaining that the tempo was too slow. Roger called me out and asked me to lead the band. Obviously, it did not go very well, so I decided to keep my mouth shut LOL. On a much more positive note, I cherish the memories of making the WTTW, PBS Production, “Made in Chicago,” playing with Clark Terry, and producing the high-quality records every year.