Friday, February 14, 2020 12:48 pm
By Abiodun Adebiyi
Circa 1982, I was with a dear friend, Jide Akinrinde at Christ Church, Mapo Ibadan at one of our trumpet-practice sessions when I saw an advert of Dr. Victor Olaiya’s show at the Ibadan Recreation Club. Interestingly, I just learnt some of those smooth chromatic solo runs that Dr. Olaiya was known for on the trumpet.
So, I headed straight to the Club in my Bishop Phillip’s school shorts and a sweat shirt. I got to the gate of the Club and of course, was refused entry. I however, stood at the barbed wire fence and watched Dr. Olaiya’s band play till the very next day! I stood transfixed to the spot, listening to those sweet legato chromatic solo runs the trumpet wizard was known for, the superb brass harmony and the beautiful guitar highlife comping of the man I later knew to be Kairos, the band’s lead guitarist (who died about a year ago). I was right there where I stood till the following morning before I headed back home (to Yemetu-Adeoyo), feeling like I just won a jackpot!
Fast forward to 1992. Mrs. Amorelle Inanga, the Resident pianist of the Ibadan Music Circle, and the then Principal of International School, University of Ibadan (ISI), sent for me and told me that a certain parent requested the school to employ the best trumpet teacher they could find to teach his son. So, I was employed as a part-time trumpet teacher at ISI. It was after some months that I found out that the special trumpet student was Biodun Olaiya -Dr. Victor Olaiya’s son. I had several other equally brilliant students who are great players today. Some of them are: Dr. Benson Olufemi, Umoh, Enoete Inanga, and the Iwayemi brothers.
Few years later, I eventually met Dr. Olaiya through Uncle Steve Rhodes during the formative years of the SR Orchestra when we played at the Alliance Francaise, and later when we instituted the Highlife All-stars Club at the Stadium Hotel. He would always introduce me as his son and invite me to play solos whenever he was on stage. The day he he held his own microphone for me to play into, was the zenith of my professional trumpet-playing career.
Dr. Victor Abimbola Olaiya instituted a style that had never ever been heard of in the history of trumpet playing globally. He was, and for ever would remain, the combination of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Chet Baker, Arturo Sandoval, etc.., to we, Nigerian trumpet players.
Adieu the grandmaster of trumpet playing in the entire black Africa!
-Biodun Adebiyi is the President, Nigerian Trumpet Guild and Coordinator (Africa), Global Chapters Initiatives for the International Trumpet Guild (ITG).