Irving Bush's Olds Prototypes
Most brass players today know of Irving Bush from his name on trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn mouthpieces. As celebrated as his mouthpieces are, they are only one of his many accomplishments. He had played with many of the top bands in the 1950s including Harry James and Nelson Riddle and became Nat King Cole's first choice trumpet player. He also played on many Hollywood movie soundtracks and in 1962, he auditioned and joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic, playing with them for 20 years after which he became personnel manager.
In the 1950s and 1960s, he had helped his friend Elden Benge develop new models and then in the mid-1970s he consulted with F.E. Olds as well. For Olds he helped design a new professional line of trumpets in Eb, C and Bb as well as this flugelhorn. Irv’ prototype Bb trumpet is shown in the last photo. Along with his treasured Benge Bb trumpet, these were the instruments that he performed on after that time.
This flugelhorn was one of a small group of prototypes that were engraved and given to prominent Los Angeles trumpet players including the section of the Philharmonic and Bill Peterson (Hollywood's least known trumpet player). Bill's was engraved "Bix" (the name "Bix Douglas" was suggested as a stage name by Monogram trumpet player Al Golden and used for good humored ribbing from then on). Tommy Stevens' was engraved with a large "T" and Bob DiVall's with simply "Bob DiVall” (fifth photo). Also, Zeke Zarchy was surprised by the gift presented by Irv with his name already engraved on the bell.
Irv’s flugelhorn doesn’t have “Olds” or any model name engraved on it, being the first prototype. The subsequent prototypes of this model had “Custom Crafted” engraved on the bell. This was obviously before they came up with “Super Star” as the model name.
The significance of the turtles engraved on this bell is simply that Irv would collect objects shaped like turtles when ever he traveled and came across them. The name: "Big Irv" described neither stature nor ego, but rather the regard with which he was held by colleagues and friends. Irving Bush was a very quite man that was universally respected and loved. I was very grateful that Marilyn Bush included Irv's personal mouthpieces and his leather gig bag when I purchased this instrument.
When this flugelhorn went into production, it was called the Super Star model. One could be excused for thinking that this looks like a student model flugelhorn (I remember thinking so when I first saw one in 1978) because it appears to have a standard trumpet valve section with the slides perpendicular to the valves. At the time that this instrument was introduced, very few flugelhorns were available with triggers on the third slide, and having both the first and third slide mobile was a leap forward in professional grade flugelhorns. The valve section appears, at first, to be the same as used in the Clark Terry and Custom Crafted model trumpets, but it has a smaller, flugelhorn bore size, .438". The over all length of the instrument is 16 1/4" (15 3/4" not including the mouthpipe) and the bell diameter is 6 5/8". The mouthpiece shown here was Irv's personal mouthpiece.