Carl Fischer is used to playing his trumpet in front of an audience of thousands. But his performance on April 21 was particularly sentimental.
Fischer, who has been performing alongside Billy Joel for the past 18 years, played the national anthem on his trumpet at Yankee Stadium. Other New York teams, such as the Knicks and Rangers, have invited Fischer, who grew up in Baldwin, to play the anthem, but he couldn’t due to the pandemic. Now, with everything reopened, Fischer played at Steinbrenner Field in March, before a Yankees spring training game, and then played at Yankee Stadium before a regular season tilt one month later.
“It’s kind of funny,” Fischer said. “I say that I went to the minor leagues to get to the major leagues.”
Fischer said that his performance in April at Yankee Stadium was “a very moving experience.”
“It was special to me because I got to play the anthem on a very special trumpet,” Fischer said. “The late, great Maynard Ferguson, who was one of my mentors and idols growing up, gave me a trumpet. So I actually played the anthem on Maynard’s trumpet.”
Fischer said that the experience was “surreal,” in part, because he grew up on Long Island and was able to perform in a stadium to which many New Yorkers feel connected. On top of all that, Fischer’s cousins from Long Island were in attendance to see him perform, and then they watched the game with him.
“You’re only as good as your last gig,” said Fischer, who played his 100th show at Madison Square Garden on April 25, only days after his Yankee Stadium performance. In the Garden audience cheering him on was Robert Notto, Fischer’s Baldwin Junior High School band director.
“I haven’t seen Robert in 20 years, and he came to my hundredth show,” Fischer said. “Also, my first trumpet teacher, Vincent Cinquemani, was at that show, too. So both of my teachers were there.”
In a Facebook post, Fischer showed his appreciation to both teachers. “I thank these two men for believing in me, and without them, I don’t think I would have continued on to play,” he said. “I am honored that you both came for my 100th MSG show.”
Fischer said his favorite parts of performing music are the communication and dialogue through the music, as well as with the band. He also noted that the “energy of the audience and the excitement is a high second to none,” and “it’s an ungodly experience.”
When asked what path he wants his career to take, Fischer gave a humble response.
“I’ve been very blessed and lucky I’ve had a career performing music,” he said. “Even in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t map out and wish for what I’ve had.”
Fischer said he doesn’t know how he could top working with Joel, but he said he would try.
In addition to performing with Joel, Fischer is the bandleader of four bands: Sunshine City Brass, T.Ë.T.I., Organic Groove Ensemble and the Nouveau Big Band. In the future, Fischer said he wants to continue working with schools.
“I just did something with the University of Central Florida last month, which was fun,” Fischer said. “So I like playing with college and high school bands.”
After receiving wisdom from different people throughout the years, Fischer wants to share that wisdom with others.