Utahns Roger Lambson and Warren Trulson don't fit the mold of typical aspiring jazz saxophonists - particularly when one realizes Lambson also writes film scores and Trulson plays with the Army Band.
It's not the easiest thing to find Lambson's "office" at Mount Vernon Academy in Murray. Under an obscure stairway in the former church building he composes movie scores and charts the course of his jazz recording career between teaching math and history.One might expect to find a middle-aged man sitting in the musty place behind the electric piano and a stack of handwritten scores. Instead, Lambson, at 25, looks more like he ought to be serving up hamburgers at McDonald's.
He has served up music for an Emmy Award-winning television show and tunes that helped his first album, "Dreams of Mexico," catch on around the world.
While Lambson seems on his way up, Trulson, 45, is looking for his way out of a life of writing jingles and playing in studio backup bands. He hopes is ticket out is his first album, "Rising Brine."
"I think it is the best direction to go at my age. It is something I have been wanting to do," Trulson said, "but it's pretty hard to break into."
* LAMBSON LEADS a double life between scoring films and commercials and blowing his sax. Most people who know him in each role have no idea he does the other. He said he even amazes himself when he realizes how he got to where he's at.
"I went to Los Angeles when I was 21. I went there, and there they said, `You are going to have to do one or the other - either play your horn or write.' Not too many people do both," he said.
He didn't take their advice and hasn't regretted it yet. While in Los Angeles he played with some top jazz artists, including Grant Geisman and keyboardist David Benoit. He also met J.A.C. Redford, who scored music for the television series "St. Elsewhere."
Redford "listened to some of my music and said, `You ought to study with a guy I know,' " Lambson said.
The guy happened to be Albert Harris, one of Hollywood's most respected film composers and scorers. Lambson called Harris and studied with him for several months.
More recently, Lambson decided to move back to Salt Lake City and met local film composer Merrill Jenson. Jenson wanted to study with Harris. In return for a phone call to Harris, Jenson allowed Lambson to score the television program "A Christmas Sampler," which starred Hal Linden.
The show won an Emmy and Lambson launched his career scoring U.S. Constitution bicentennial commercials for CBS and the short film "Airplay" for Disney. His next challenge is to get a contract for a feature film.
As he was beginning to land television contracts, Lambson was pitching a new album to record companies. After hearing his mix of tunes inspired while on a vacation in Mexico, people at the Sea Breeze label in Bryn Mawr, Calif., offered him a contract.
Since then the album has been distributed in the United States and has been selling well in Europe. Lambson said he thinks the album attracts listeners because it updates '30s-era jazz with popular musical lengths and structure.
"I found a way to take true-blue jazz and present it to people. That's been my goal. My mom, who likes the furthest thing from jazz, will listen to it," Lambson said.
The critics even liked it. "This tidy album takes us back to the cool ear with a vengeance," wrote a reviewer in Jazz Journal International.
* IN CONTRAST to Lambson's work, Trulson's album is a mix of jazz, rock and electronic fusion. Trulson stars throughout, including some improvisations on the saxophone and flute. The album has tunes in honor of the women in his life and an electronics-gilded salute to the astronauts of the space shuttle Challenger.
The title track memorializes the once-rising waters of the Great Salt Lake. In fact, the album's cover features a hand holding a saxophone above the lake's brine with a submerged Saltair in the background.
The Kearns man said that while his first love is performing, it's not something he has "made a lot of bucks at." An inheritance helped him afford to produce the album.
As an accomplished musician on a variety of woodwind instruments, including the clarinet, flute, oboe and bassoon, he has been employed as a consultant for a local music store, composed jingles and played with the 23rd Army Band.
Trulson may be recognized by local jazz fans for his performances at brown bag series, local clubs and a number of Utah Arts Festivals. He said he strives for a style that doesn't pretend to mimic anything done before.
"I hope it sounds like me and not somebody else," he laughed.
Trulson has sent his album to more than 90 record companies. One in Detroit showed some interest, but wants him to tour. He said he hasn't made up his mind about touring, but believes it may be too late if he waits much longer.
"You get old and the chops go. You get to the point where you can't compete with the young guys in the studio," he said, noting the need for someone to promote him and his music. "There are a lot of terrible players out there who become famous."