Calicchio Trumpets moves to the heartland as new owner John Duda revitalizes the art of old-world craftsmanship set forth by Domenick Calicchio. John's history in the art of horn-making spans generations as he continues to follow in the footsteps of his father Louis, designer of the Benge pocket trumpet.
As a boy, John would watch in amazement as his father, Eldon Benge's right-hand man, deftly assembled the brass instruments that would become his passion.
At the age of nineteen, after discovering his own knack for the manipulation of metals while working as a silversmith, he went to work at the Benge factory under the tutelage of his father and Zig Kanstul. As part of his apprenticeship he worked at the King factory in Cleveland, OH, but the weather was more than he had bargained for, so he returned to Anaheim where he became the foreman of the bell department. His two mentors cross-trained him in nearly all departments and he quickly developed the skills that have kept him in demand by so many of the top horn-makers in the nation.
In 1983, Benge's new owners UMI closed down the Anaheim factory, relocating the operation in Eastlake, OH. At that point, John began making bells for Zig Kanstul, who had put together his own business crafting parts for Conn and eventually manufacturing trumpets for Besson. As the company grew, Zig was also starting to manufacture horns and parts for new companies entering into the horn world. With John's prowess for bell-making gaining renown, he was soon making bells for much of the brass world, including Conn, Bel Canto, Callet, Allied, Blessing, and others.
Tired of the contract labor grind, he and Joe Lintz helped Joe Marcinkiewicz establish his own line of trumpets in 1986. Once Joe was up and running, Duda and Lintz focused their attentions on the Calicchio line. In 1987, upon hearing that Irma Calicchio (Domenick's daughter) was contemplating shutting down the factory, they convinced her to give them a chance to revive the operation. Soon, Calicchio trumpets were back in demand as the ultimate studio trumpet as John and Joe worked their magic. By 1991, things were going so well that many top artists were putting away horns made by Domenick and picking up the new Calicchios. During this time Calicchio also saw the return of Domenick's grandson, Chris, to the company. Around this time, John's old friend Zig Kanstul offered him the challenge of tooling up and building his new contrabass tuba. While putting together Zig's new tuba, John still found the time to make bells for Calicchio. In 1992, however, while helping Zig move from Fullerton to Anaheim, John suffered an injury that put a halt to his work with the heavier brass line.
After making certain that he left Chris with all the knowledge necessary to keep the Calicchio Company alive, John moved to Tulsa to pursue another of his dreams - flying!
While working on the requisite courses for his pilot's licenses, he also found time to work on a Bachelor's Degree in Aviation Science at Oklahoma State University, along with working part-time at Tulsa Band Instruments. 2000 found him heading up the sales and brass repair departments at Tulsa Band as well as crafting custom trumpets.
John's love of building trumpets has been fulfilled, having come to fruition with the opportunity to purchase Calicchio Trumpets. His experience in both the handcrafting and retailing sides of the music business uniquely prepared him to start a new chapter in the history of horn-making as the Tulsa-made trumpets and flugelhorns have landed on the scene. We are proud to have brought a new level of excellence to Calicchio with the standardization and modernization that John has brought to the manufacturing process. We have remade tooling, purchased newer and higher quality machinery, trained a highly-skilled staff and developed a fresh approach that has raised quality and consistency to the highest levels in the history of the company.
No opportunity can be quite as exciting as the dream of keeping Domenick's spirit alive - "We will make each horn better than the one before."
John Thomas was born in Fort Worth,Texas in 1950. (more)