Gooch – Omaha, Nebraska

“It seems like the world is so crazy and everybody is against each other, you know, and it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s really nuts to me. So I’d like to see that, you know, come together – let’s all hold hands, light candles in a big circle or something, you know?”

“My name is Michael Leonardo Sebastiano Gurciullo. My friends call me Gooch and my wife calls me much, much worse…*laugh*”

“In one week will be my fiftieth anniversary of playing the trumpet. I started when I was nine years old, so you can do the math, it’s pretty easy.”

“I’ve loved big band music my whole life. Playing the trumpet, I was drawn to whatever had trumpet in it, and back then it was jazz and big band music – and of course, Maynard Ferguson when he was really big back in the day. I’ve just always loved it and always drew to that – so I don’t know, I didn’t really follow the Beatles really, or the rock n’ roll stuff, but bands that had horns, like Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire, and those kind of bands. So it always had to have a trumpet in it to attract me, but I’ve just loved the big band music my whole life.”

“Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to – my goal or dream was – to have a big band and be able to entertain people with it. That’s always been something I wanted to do.”

“This band meets every Monday, so we do 50 Mondays a year. They’re closed on Labor Day and Memorial Day, the two holidays. So we do 50 Mondays a year, we’re on the Nebraska Arts Council touring program so we go out to different cities…we probably do 60 to 70 gigs with this full 17-piece big band a year.”

“My slogan is ‘from one man to big band.’”

“I was born and raised in Omaha. I left in 1980 and went to music school at North Texas State University…it was like the #1 jazz school – it’s the largest school of music in the world. For example, the college here I was at, I was in there for a year before I transferred down there, there was three trumpet majors and then maybe 15 guys who played trumpet – but they were business or whatever – and that made the marching band maybe 15 of us or so.

When I went to North Texas there was 250 trumpet majors – and then guys that also played trumpet besides that. The music school was over 2000 students. All kinds of people would come there and get players: Buddy Rich, you know, Stan Kenton. When Stan Kenton died, he left his entire music library to North Texas State, and I just happened to be the music librarian at the time on a college work-study job, so I got to open to those crates of music, you know, that historic stuff, and file it all on the shelves and put it away.”

“I went out on the road with the Glen Miller Orchestra. That was like my first ‘name’ big band and toured with them. And when I finished that, after about a year, I was heading to fame and fortune in Los Angeles – you either go to New York or LA – and I’m more of an LA person, because I came from here in Nebraska where you have houses and there’s room, New York’s kind of a concrete jungle or whatever.

So I was heading there but my girlfriend at the time was in Monterrey, California and I arrived there in December, and the ocean was smashing on the rocks and exploding – the surf – and there’s sea lions barking and the seagrass was blooming with flowers. This is in December, and I’m used to freezing, frigid cold and I’m going ‘This place is gorgeous!’ and I said ‘Let’s just hang out here for a while.’ So we did – I never did make it to LA.”

“After that I moved back home for a little bit and then I went to Vegas in like 1993 to 2008. It seemed the logical place: I had a lot of friends from music school who were living there and it was less expensive to live than Los Angeles. It was a great time.”

“I caught the tail end of the era where all the casinos had live lounge acts, you know, sometimes three or four a day. I caught the tail end of that, where that was still happening. We got to open the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. We were one of the first bands to play in there. They hired three bands, we were one of those three. In the gorgeous Fontana Lounge, it overlooked the waterfall show. Now I understand it’s slot machines or something – it was such a great room, it was the most beautiful room in Vegas, and I guess it’s gone.”

“I had a very, very tumultuous second marriage – really, really out. Abusive, but me being the victim. It was just really strange. I don’t know if it was bipolar or different things were diagnosed…and I’m in such a happy place now and it’s all behind me. I’m back in my home town and I’m married to this girl I’ve had a crush on – my wife, Elaine – since the first time I saw her in 8th grade. And we just got married seven years ago…I’m in just a great place in my life, but that was a really dark, weird time in my life.”

“Me, selfishly, personally, I do a lot of writing, I have a ton of originally music and that’s my next project that I’m doing. I’m going to start recording that and get that out and try to broker it to other artists. You know, record it myself and see what happens. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a very good songwriter. I’m good with melodies – because I’ve played the trumpet my whole life, you know, you can only play a melody – I’ve written a lot of really good songs and that’s my next focus on my career: trying to get some of my music out there.”

“My teacher, way back when, I studied privately with, Don Jacobi, he always said ‘If you want to make money in the music business, don’t play, write!'”

“When I perform or I’m playing my trumpet, that’s the only thing I’m thinking about. If I’m singing a song the only thing I’m thinking about is the story of the lyrics and delivering the song…My mind’s taken off every worry in the world…it’s almost like a drug addiction you know, or something, you’re always chasing that high. There’ll be a time when you couldn’t play a wrong note if you tried…and you get this adrenaline rush from it and you’re always ‘I want to do that again, I want to feel that again inside’ and you keep going. But it comes with a lot of – you have to do a lot of practicing and preparation, it doesn’t just happen.”

Limited edition print available (alpha edition):
Giclée (Archival Inkjet) print w/ quotes hand-lettered on mat in silver pen.
1.25” Matte Black Frame, 2.5” Black Mat, Archival Hinge Mount, UV Glass.
13.5″ x 20″ (Framed: 21″ x 27.5″)

Gooch - Limited Edition Print, Alpha Series
Click here for more information about limited edition prints.