The Craftsmen’s Bench… John Duda, Master Craftsman and former david Sponsor, Has Passed…

John Noxon Part 1

It is with great sadness I pass this news on to you guys. I think you were all aware of John’s talent when it came to horn making. He was one of maybe 6 or 7 people who could make a horn from start to finish. Knew all of the processes involved and was truly a master horn builder. He is the one that built the 6/4 Tuba that Kanstul sold. He was Calicchio trumpets, and Williams trombones. He grew up in this business, working with his dad Lou Duda who built the Burbank Benge trumpets for many years.

John was one of my closest and best friends over the last 40 years. He has passed this weekend. He has been somewhat ill for the last year. He was going to undergo surgery on the 29th of this month for a leaking aortic valve. He just could not wait that long!

As things develop I will add more to this.

John Noxon Part 2

John was a friend for many years. I think we first met when I was about 16 hanging around Earl Williams shop. His dad, Lou Duda, was the foreman for Eldon Benge in Burbank Ca. Eldon and Zig Kanstul used to come to the shop to have Earl or Bob draw tubing for them occasionally. John was 3 years younger than I was. We last contact for a while. 

Then caught up when he worked for Kanstul for a while. John hurt his back and quit making horns and moved to Tulsa to become a pilot! Big career change for sure! He met a fellow who talked him into making horns again. 

They bought Calicchio from Irma and Chris here in LA. This was about 2 years after Calicchio had purchased Earl Williams trombones from Jay Armstrong in Donelson TN. Irma and Chris had talked to me about the Williams horns when all of the tooling and parts were in LA.  When John and his partner bough Calicchio, Williams came along with it. 

John called me and I used my original horns to sort out parts and pieces. So we were in contact again, after a couple of years. We figured out the parts etc to make great horns again. From that time forward he has probably made about 100 Williams trombones. He left Tulsa and went to Canby Oregon and was in the Marcinkowicz shop for a few years then moved back to Tulsa. In 2009 my wife and I took a trip to the east coast so we stopped to see John in Tulsa. About 2007 a good friend had a Minick tenor bone with no bell. He always liked the sound of the Copper and Coprion Conn Trombones. So he had a Copper bell put on that Minick upper section. I also love the sound and responsiveness of the copper bell so I asked John to make me one. I bugged him for 2 years to do this. He reply was, “Yeah I’ll get to it”, but never found the time. Finally we were in Oklahoma City. I called John in Tulsa and told him I was coming in about 4 hours to pick up my Copper Bell! I also said I have a Williams 4 upper with no bell with me. So we got to Tulsa a few hours later and the bell was still warm from spinning it. There were 3 destroyed bell blanks on the floor. They had collapsed during spinning them, We shot the breeze for a while and he soldered in on the upper I had brought with us. He was never able to make another Copper bell as thin as mine is. The always collapsed while spinning.

He had a stray dog show up at the shop about 6 months before this. Her name was Ruby! She had be shot through the shoulders with and arrow. She made to to the shop and John got her fixed up and healthy again! She was a really delightful pup! She was a Rhodesian Ridge Back breed. Kind of reddish in color. The copper bell was kind of red so my wife named the horn Ruby also.

That horn has such a clear mellow sound  and slots like you wouldn’t believe. It is a horn that anyone who plays it wants it. This horn makes me a better player than I really am! I was about ready to give up playing for a the 2nd time, but this horn still keeps me engaged and wanting to play. I had a repair business for over 20 years and I alway was gonna have John teach me to spin bells. I never got around to doing that and I really regret not doing that.

John and I stayed in touch after Tulsa.After  he went to Canby OR we always stopped to him on our trips north. We went to OR, WA, ID Montana and always caught up in the shop over over dinner someplace. Then he went back to Tulsa are to be around his daughter, Tammy and grandkids. We were gonna stop and see him next summer on our next road trip……..

I will miss his knowledge, wisdom about brass instruments. He could tweak a horn lie no one else! I will miss his friendship, and always positive attitude about life in general. As we both got older we started having health issues at about the same time. He always told me I would be ok with this kidney failure situation. I told him he would be ok too. He always “I know I will be, just another bump in the road”! I just talked to him last Thursday or Friday. He was looking forward to getting this valve replacement on the 29th so he could be more active again.

If per chance Gabriel needs trumpets, he knows where to find John now!

John Noxon

From Massimo Pirone

This is really bad news. He held up the name of the famous Williams horns and his manufacturing was impeccable..A big loss for the world of brass…

R. I. P.

From James GLicking

Terrible news, John.  The very least of it is the loss to all of us, the world, of an absolute master of the craft.  I marveled at the quality of his work, and he had to be suffering during the time he generously shared his time to work on a Williams 6 for me.  So impressive, he agreed to make one from scratch.  Beautiful work.  We were talking about his building a Williams 9 for me; he said it might be the last one he would make (but not so far as he knew, I don’t believe, because of health reasons).     

From David Brubeck

Thanks for letting us know, John.
What terrible loss.  
Please express all of our condolences and deepest sympathy to his family.
John represented excellence AND kindness.   His knowledge was IMMENSE.
John Duda changed my life forever, and has allowed me to better express myself and share my music with people.

What an honor to work with him.  He was an incredible sponsor, and I really could not consider another-I’d have to stop playing the horns he helped me put together-IMPOSSIBLE!

I really relished bringing some additional attention to him and his excellence at my presentation for the 40th International Trumpet Guild Conference in Columbus, Ohio.  Despite the all-star cast of trumpet players I performed with, and the duets we presented-most of the questions I received were about John.  He was so vastly esteemed in the trumpet community, and so many were excited to again see his name.  

John Duda was one of a very few Americans who was universally respected by all of the European brass manufacturers with whom I came into contact.  And again, when I attended NAMM for the Plastic trombones, somehow John’s name kept coming up.  Whether at the Meinlschmidt booth or elsewhere, John was a LEGEND.

From Steve Stanford

I ran into John over a Williams 6 that we both wanted to purchase.   The horn was built special for a fine trombonist who had just lost his 2B in a car wreck.  John was a wealth of info on anything Williams and very helpful in understanding what my little Williams 6 was all about.  He made numerous offers so we settled on if I die first he gets to buy it.  RIP ole buddy

From Chris Amemiya

So sorry to hear about this John. I knew he was not well. Such a character the few times I met with him in Oregon. The Williams 6 he made for me is still my go-to horn. So sad.

From Stuart Merritt

Sorry to hear this. John was good to me. Love the bell he built on a horn I have. My best to his family and loved ones.

From John Hinchey

I had heard from Mike Corrigan. This is really sad news. John was an amazing craftsman. I am fortunate to have played a custom Williams 6 he made for me over the past 15 years, it’s fabulous horn. In addition, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, that is always hard.
Best regards,

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