Brass On Valve Oil. A lifetime in the making.
It was the end of the 1980´s in Cuba. I was still a boy and my life in the Cuban countryside was a flurry of new experiences that included riding horses without a saddle past the tobacco farms all around me surrounded by the stately Royal palm trees. I remember I used to love sneaking out to the river and the beach without permission (I got in trouble for that by the way!).
Then one day -the music arrived. Everything changed. I was 12 years old and I was sent to a boarding school as was the system in Cuba when a child is marked for a certain profession. I lived at the school during the week with the other students and on the weekend, I was with my parents at home.
I chose the trumpet after a short conversation with Luis Rodriguez Yser whose contagious smile convinced me to play this challenging instrument. Luis, if I had to do it again, I’m not sure if I would listen to you.
Then, I got a rusty mouthpiece and I began to make some noise from it. I started dreaming about a trumpet that I would soon get from the school.
And it came! The trumpet!!! The school loaned me a Czechoslovakian Zenith trumpet with more dents than a veteran prizefighter. Still, compared to the Soviet Razno trumpets that some of the other students were given, it was a Monette.
After a brief explanation from my teacher about how to take care of the instrument, I was told that I need valve oil, but there was a small problem.
There was no valve oil available.
How did we resolve this problem? We used water, sometimes saliva, but the thing that stays with me are the memories I have of the green stains on my white school uniform shirts. Not to mention the unforgettable odor and taste of what we ended up using: a mixture of kerosene and water!
After I finished my elementary studies, I moved to the capitol city, Havana, where I studied at the Escuela Nacional de Arte (affectionately known as the ENA). In the mid 1990’s I graduated from the ENA and 2 years later, when I left the country for the first time as a musician, I bought my very first bottle of valve oil. I was 22 years old.
I started my professional music career, going on tours and buying valve oils but I was never quite satisfied with the commercial oils available for one reason or another. I noticed, with a few exceptions, that some valve oils dry out really fast, some smell bad, or they leave a greenish film on the tubes.
I spent the next 20 years playing professionally in Cuba, Europe, South and Central America. I have written and published two academic method books for trumpet entitled “Brasstactic” in addition to my performance and touring career.
On of the educational tours for the method book led me to Central America where I was working with young people (together with Armando Trujillo in a local project called Dunamis) who had poor instruments and poor financial resources to properly care for their trumpets.
They were so passionate about music, so I went on a quest to help them. I prayed about this issue and for a solution for these young people. I decided to make valve oil following some expert advice. I did it. It worked beautifully with the trumpets and I have to say with trumpets of all levels of quality, even the most substandard instruments.
I started sharing the valve oil with other trumpet players under the name of Dunamis. It caught on so fast. Everyone was asking me for a bottle of the valve oil. As a result, I decided to expand my horizons and create my own line of valve oils and share it with the world.
It is called BrassOn!
– It is fast, with good valve response. The valves feel smooth, fast, and lubricated.
– It is durable. You don’t have to keep applying the oil every single day.
– It does not have any rust removers.
– It doesn’t smell like petroleum. (#GoodbyeKerosene)
Now my trumpet valves are like new and for the past year since using my invention I haven’t had any trouble with valves sticking while I play.
God heard my prayer, giving me the ability to produce BrassOn! One of the best valve oils that I have ever used.
Hope you like it!
(Photo by: Christer Hiort)