TAPS TRIBUTE | Live performances at military funerals fade, local group steps up
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) - The playing of Taps at military funerals is the final salute to America’s bravest. However, the number of trained musicians capable of performing the tribute is dwindling across the country – but now, a group of professional musicians in Las Vegas is bridging the musical gap.
The non-profit organization appropriately named TAPPS (Trumpeters Alliance to Perform Patriotic Services) perform graveside services all over Southern Nevada at no cost to the families.
“To this day, it still gets me every time,” said Gary Cordell, one of the founding members of TAPPS. “There’s 24 notes in Taps and we describe it as the 24 most important notes you’ll ever play.”
The group recently performed at a memorial service for Laura Taylor, whose father missed out on a formal military send-off when he died 27 years ago.
“I’m flabbergasted that after 27 years, my father is going to have a real military honor. I get choked up thinking about it,” said Taylor, whose father – Robert Louis Cox – was a proud yet modest WWII veteran who fought overseas in the Pacific some 70 years ago.
“It really brings him back to me and I just loved him so much,” said Taylor.
The military no longer has the resources to provide a live bugler at each military funeral, so it often resorts to electronic recordings of Taps instead. That’s where the TAPPS team of professional trumpeters steps in.
“We formed this organization for the specific purpose of providing a live bugler to fallen military and first responders,” said Cordell. “It means a lot to be able to give that to a family and that’s at the heart of what we do.”
Taps is a tune recognized by the military since the Civil War.
“When you hear it played live with a great player, there’s nothing really like it,” said Taylor, who is a longtime Las Vegas jazz singer and a professional songwriter. “My dad had me singing and playing the piano by the time I was five.”
Taylor’s relationship with her father made way for a notable career: she even wrote one song that was recorded by Diana Ross, which went platinum.
However, through Taylor’s lifetime of music, it’s her father’s final tribute through the tune of 24 notes she will never forget.
“I think he would be inwardly just so proud and I think the sun will shine today … because it will be my father knowing somehow that this is happening for him and he deserved it,” said Taylor, adding, “All of them deserved it.”
Originally published Friday, April 14th 2017 by Nathan O’Neal