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AL CASS MOUTHPIECE TRIBUTE

 

"bah! I didn't go to college, the college calls me and asks me questons. Diz didn't go to college, either you've got it or you don't" were the words spoken to me by my father after informing him my school's guidance counselor explained that if I didn't apply to a college soon, it would be too late. It was almost summer. So, I put a cassette deck on top of my piano and hit record.
The results that afternoon were rewarded with a full scholarship accompanied with several awards for performance and writing to Berklee School of Music in Boston.  Dad was happy I did apply enough to receive the letters in return but indicated, "who the hell is going to run this business when I'm gone". We knew since 1980 that he was diagnosed with just 5% of his liver and the doctors had given him just months to live, but this was now 1986 and we were all on "borrowed time".

When I was 5, I indicated after attending a recording session at one of dad's friends 4track studios, state of the art at the time, I wanted to also play piano, but when dad came home with an electric piano, he took away my trumpet and said, "you can't be the best at both".


This pretty much sums up my father. He was always thinking of #1. Whatever you do, you must be #1. 2nd best is not good enough. And that is the positive mentality he strived for in his life's work. To make the very best mouthpieces possible. Having made most of the famed trumpeters of the day their mouthpieces, how could one argue? You couldn't. On the lighter side, my father was a family guy. He consistently rewarded his desires with material things. I once wanted a childs pitching machine when I was 8 that cost $25. My father told me, "play Dizzy Fingers without any mistakes and I will give you a dime each time". So, I played that song hundreds/thousands of times to get it perfect 250 times in order to secure my new machine! And without question, i learned that song "backwards and forwards and upside down " as he stated I should. In fact, I could play that song standing backwards at the piano by the
time I was awarded the $25!

Some may say his methods were a bit un-orthodox. Regardless, he accomplished what he set out to do. It didn't matter how it came to be, as long as it came to be. When his mouthpiece making venture began, he met Vincent Bach, "the old man" in Central Park in NYC, the two discussed his new ideas. Upon Bachs "come to my factory tomorrow", he knew he was onto something and made way for home to continue his dream. Never letting up, countless months of study, money spent. Which his elder siblings supported. A never ending relentless pursuit to "become the #1". He did it.
He did the impossible. What other's told him was not possible. This may have been his driving force. But he was awarded his patent and the rest is history. Dad's name has been described to me many times by great musicians as "the stradivari of brass" because like stradivari, he made the musicians life better, easier. Allowing the musician to "not think of the mechanics" while in performance and be able to give full expression of their music. The result was the generation of Jazz musicians who
used his craft to their advantage. Exactly what he wanted them to do.


Stephen Cassinelli
eldest son of Al Cass

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2013