10 Masters of the Trumpet

Jun 24, 2020

The trumpet is a widely popular instrument that has been played all over the world and by musicians from all kinds of cultures. TIt’s a versatile instrument that can be played to suit a huge range of styles, from classical to pop, jazz, blues, and even rock! This incredible diversity is probably at least part of why it’s become so popular.

Since enjoying a boost in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century, the trumpet has become a staple in musical culture in general – and especially in jazz. But, like all instruments, becoming a successful trumpet player takes years of dedication and lots of hard work.

Let’s take a look at some of those who have put in that work to become the very best trumpet players the world has ever seen!

Louis Armstrong

Born into extreme poverty in the early part of the 20th century, no one expected Louis Armstrong would grow up to become one of the most famous and talented trumpeters of all time. And along the way he would play a key role in developing jazz music while it was still in its infancy. His unique ability to improvise and experiment with techniques, his charisma and energy, and that distinctively deep, gravelly voice helped him dazzle audiences wherever he played.

Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie, born John Birks Gillespie, is now fondly remembered as one of the founding fathers of jazz and bebop. Known for his peculiar trademark playing style – he puffed his cheeks out like a balloon, and used a trumpet bell bent out at a 45-degree angle – Dizzy earned his nickname for the way he clowned around and frolicked madly on stage, making his audience dizzy from his wild movements. His most celebrated performances include “Groovin’ High” and “A Night in Tunisia,” among many more.

Art Farmer

Known as a melodic soloist, Art Farmer was a highly celebrated trumpeter – one whom people continue to study as his emotional depth has only become more apparent. Setting himself apart from other performers of his time, Art avoided the typical bright and penetrating sound of mainstream music, instead seeking out depth and articulation. Over the course of his career, Art recorded over 50 albums, with countless more collaborations.

Chet Baker

No list of famous trumpet players would be complete without Chet Baker!

Chet first started playing the trumpet when he was still a boy, before joining the army band as a young man. Before long he found a serious career in music with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. His career skyrocketed with the quartet, but his recordings for Pacific Jazz, including the album Chet Baker Sings, are still considered among his very best to this day.

Miles Davis

Few names are more closely connected to the trumpet than that of Miles Davis. As a well-respected bandleader, composer, and one of the most influential trumpet players of all time, he made huge contribution to the world of trumpet music. Not least among these contributions was helping to introduce and define the West Coast genre of jazz. His album King of Blue, released in 1959, became the most popular and highest selling jazz album of all time. As his career progresses, Miles experimented with different electrical instruments, helping to give birth to jazz-rock and fusion styles.

Lee Morgan

Lee Morgan began his career as a professional trumpet player at the tender age of 15. Something of a child prodigy, he studied with the equally well-respected Clifford Brown. Lee even performed with Dizzy Gillespie’s band for some time before moving on to find his own style and success.

Unfortunately, Lee’s extreme talent has become overshadowed by his rather chaotic personal life, including his untimely death at the hands of his wife.

Wynton Marsalis

With all the musicians on this list, Wynton Marsalis is one of only two still performing. Born in New Orleans, he is now a music educator, composer, and the Artistic Director of Jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York. Wynton’s fame is well earned as he was the first musician to win a Pulitzer Prize for his jazz recordings and has been awarded 9 Grammys in classical music and jazz. So far, he’s created and performed a wide range of music, from quartets and chamber music ensembles, to orchestras and big bands.

Fats Navarro

Theodore “Fats” Navarro was an American trumpet player and pioneer of the bebop style of jazz improvisation during the 1940s. Fats’s playing influenced other players of his own generation, including the likes of Clifford Brown, and helped pave the way for many more who would be to come. Though his early career was incredibly promising, performing with such greats as Tad Dameron and Kenny Clarke, he passed away the young age of 26.

Herb Alpert

Like Wynton Marsalis, Herb Alpert is still playing and performing for audiences today. Over the course of his long career he’s won the coveted Grammy Award for his solo performances and his role as a respected bandleader. Beyond his globetrotting performing career, Herb is also a well-respected recording industry executive with his own recording label.

King Oliver

Native to New Orleans, King Oliver was a bandleader and cornet player. He became well known and has been praised for his ground-breaking use of mutes in jazz – giving him a truly unique playing style. In 1922 he formed his band called King Oliver and his Creole Jazz band, and helped set what would become the standard for jazz music. And as a composer, his work would go on to influence the great Louis Armstrong.

Looking to start your trumpet journey? Or perhaps you’ve already got some experience and you’re looking to develop your technique? Check out trumpet lessons at The Music Studio!

As a beginning brass student, you will focus on the development of proper breathing techniques through exercises designed to strengthen the muscles needed to produce a steady and strong air supply. Good posture is stressed as is the importance of developing a proper embouchure which involves learning to use your facial muscles and lips correctly to produce sound on your instrument. Tuning, music reading skills and correct fingering or slide positions are covered as well.

More advanced students may concentrate on refining their technique and interpreting brass repertoire representing a variety of musical styles. Students who are enrolled in their school music program are encouraged to bring their school music to their lessons at The Music Studio.