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young man with a horn

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Story by Joe Leary

He wasn’t exactly born playing a horn—but it certainly followed shortly thereafter. In fact, it was in the 3rd Grade that Vancouver-based trumpet virtuoso Gabriel Mark Hasselbach actually recorded music for a school fundraising project in his native Colorado.

“I was in a multi-school summer band program when I was eight years old, my first year playing the trumpet,” he recalls. Story by Joe Leary “We recorded a vinyl record of concert band material that summer as a fundraiser; I was even front and center on the album jacket, although not particularly singled out. “From there the die was cast.

“I stayed in school bands and took private lessons, and at twelve I joined the Columbia Records Club—buy one get 5 free—and I remember my first batch consisting of Clifford Brown and Art Blakey Live at the Blue Note.

The Tijuana Brass, Brazil 66, Ellington Big Band and Jefferson Airplane. “I was listening to late night jazz radio shows from New York, Chicago and St. Louis, in bed under the covers with a little 7 transistor radio, the radio waves bouncing off the ionosphere to the Mile High City. “I really fell in love with that organ trio sound and all the great horn players.”

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After years on the local music scene, actively playing jazz gigs and large corporate events, he would receive a phone call that would play a vital role in the life and career of this emerging musical star.

“Producer, coach and adjudicator Beverly Delich called to tell me of this fantastic 16-year-old kid who had just won the PNE ‘Teen Talent Search,’ and could I get him working?” says Hasselbach.

That kid was Michael Bublé. “Michael started singing with my big band. He was a little shaky but full of potential,” he recalls.

“He recorded the tune ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ on one of my albums, and I produced his album ‘Dream,’ dedicated to his mentor and grandpa Mitch.”

After working together for a few years, the fuse was lit and Bublé’s career trajectory soared. “He worked for me for a few years, then after he met David Foster the tables turned, and I started working for him for a couple of years.

They would go their separate ways when Bublé hit the ranks of superstardom. “When he really took off big-time, we parted ways amicably,” he says. “I had my own destiny to fulfill.”

In the ensuing years, the well-travelled musician has toured extensively, playing for various dignitaries along the way; he established a number of personal achievements with gold and platinum jazz albums; and has since recorded 18 albums, won ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ awards and charted eleven Billboard hits of his own.



“They say you need 10,000 hours to master your craft, and I’m sure I’ve tripled that,” he estimates. “My five years of touring 300 shows a year as an original member of the Powder Blues Band kept me in shape and gave me a good launching pad.

“Then, after I left the band, I was performing six nights a week and doing studio advertising jingles in the day, so my chops were always finely tuned. “Nowadays, with occasional international concerts, where travel time exceeds playing time by a factor of thirty, and my weekly Sunday jazz gig at the Admiral Pub in Burnaby, I find I need to spend more focused daily time with my face to the horn to maintain my chops. “I’m making a new album so that helps.

“Muscle memory ain’t what it used to be, either.”


Home time for Gabriel Mark Hasselbach is spent in the Burnaby penthouse apartment that he shares with his wife, Sylvia, and two musically-named dogs: Bebop and Tutti.

“I used to be a cat person, but my daughter Megan convinced me to get a hypoallergenic dog about seven years ago, and I can’t believe what I had been missing all those years,” he says.

“My wife and I got a second dog from BCSPCA a few years after that and there is no turning back: daily exercise for all, and lots of love and cuddles.” Not surprisingly, transportation to and from Hasselbach’s various gigs is provided by his prized BMW 328i! “I’ve always been a Beemer guy with numerous iterations under my belt,” he acknowledges.

“The new models look awesome and I’ll probably go electric—but just like my trumpets, I have a soft spot for the vintage ones. “Calling my Cherry 1999 328i a vintage automobile is arguable, but I love it. It will go a million miles with that cast iron block and good maintenance.

“Good soft top, no rust, good paint and sound system—it’s a solid bet for me.”

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