I met Rafael Méndez  - Dean Canty

As a cornet student, growing up in west Texas, in Odessa, I wanted to play like Harry James.  Now, I do, but 1953-54 Rafael Mendez came to Odessa High School to perform with the band, and I got a whole new perspective on trumpet playing.  

I got to play in a trio with him and also had a  lesson.  In the late 50's, early 60's I was a university student at Texas Western College in El Paso, Texas.  Across the border, in Juarez, Mexico, the night-clubs used to have first-class entertainment, of which Mendez would occasionally appear. A friend and I went to see Mendez, he remembered me and from then on whenever he was going to be in Juarez, or the surrounding area, he would let me know and I would go see his performance and later,  over his favorite drink " tequila". I was able to absorb a tremendous amount of information.  He was above  all a 'class act' , willing to spend time talking but not lecturing, teaching, but not directly.  I treasure the many hours we sat and talked between sets in Juarez and include a picture of the two of us as one of my prize possessions.  No, I never did get where I could tongue like him, but I did and do play all of his solos. I have all of his vinyl records, as well as the complete cd collection.

I don't  think Dale Olson actually mentioned that Olds made a Mendez model; it had a spring trigger on the third valve slide, and also the valves were slightly set forward from the standard  placement. I also believe later Olds incorporated a lot of this into the Olds Recording model.

I finished my B.A. degree, received my Masters fromn  NTSU with John Haynie, another legend, and took my doctorate in conducting from UT-Austin.  I teach trumpet, concert band, jazz ensemble  at UT-Pan American and perform professionally, and at age 67 feel I play better than ever.