Trumpet Technique - June 18, 2006

World of Jazz Trumpet - book review

World Of Jazz TrumpetI just finished reading "The World of Jazz Trumpet: A Comprehensive History & Practical Philosophy," by Scotty Barnhart. The book includes the history of jazz trumpet, interviews with several jazz trumpeters (Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, and more!), and suggestions for jazz trumpet performance, practice, and technique. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would consider it a must-read for all aspiring jazz trumpeters. Heck, I'd even recommend it to non-trumpeters --it's about time you guys learn a thing or two about the most important instrument in the history of jazz!

While there are many books about jazz history, "The World of Jazz Trumpet" stands on its own thanks to the unique insight and experiences of the book's author, Scotty Barnhart, who also happens to be a professional jazz trumpeter and highly-esteemed educator. As a trumpet player, Barnhart knows precisely how difficult it is to play solos from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis. He knows these founding fathers of jazz were enormously talented and treats them with the respect and reverence that they deserve. Barnhart doesn't just want us to learn their history, he also wants us to appreciate these musicians and their music as much as he does.

As a professional musician, Barnhart has had the opportunity to meet and/or play with many of the legendary trumpeters that he writes about. These experiences are shared throughout the book, adding a personal touch to each history lesson and a glimpse into what these musicians were like as people. For example, one story explained how Dizzy Gillespie was due to play at the Atlanta Jazz Festival in 1990. Somehow, festival organizers failed to pick Dizzy up from the airport and he was stranded. When Dizzy finally arrived at the event, he was tired, hungry, and clearly upset about what had happened (I'd be awfully mad too if I was stranded at the airport at 73 years of age!). As Dizzy sat down for a quick meal, a photographer butted in and tried to take some pictures. Irritated, Dizzy told him in no uncertain terms to leave him alone. Soon after the photographer left, a young boy approached Dizzy. Rather than shoo the boy away as he did with the photographer, Dizzy perked up, welcomed him over, and even showed him a few notes on his trumpet! It's great to know that no matter how Dizzy felt, he always had time to reach out to young people to get them interested in jazz.

Since this book focuses on jazz trumpet, Barnhart delves deeper into the lineage of trumpet players than do most jazz books. For instance, most jazz history books don't talk about ANY professional female jazz trumpeters. Barnhart, however, devotes an entire chapter to them, and mentions several that I hadn't even heard of before. Once such artist is Clora Bryant and her album "Gal With A Horn". As I type this, I'm listening to her solo on "Tea For Two". Damn! If I didn't know any better, I'd think this was Dizzy Gillespie soloing. Thanks to Barnhart, there are quite a few other musicians and albums I'm going to be checking out over the next few weeks. I feel like a whole new jazz world has been revealed!

After the history and interview sections, Barnhart devotes a few chapters to trumpet playing. Topics cover everything from playing in a big band (Barnhart is a featured soloist in the Count Basie Orchestra) to how to play with a plunger. Each section is informative and valuable to any aspiring jazz trumpet player. Once again, Barnhart's own experiences as a trumpet player and educator add value to the content. He knows his stuff!

As should be clear by now, I really enjoyed this book and especially Scotty Barnhart's stories and writing style. I thank him for sharing this with all of us and I encourage you to read it.

Comment by Eric B

You're right on the money regarding this book. I'm still working my way through it now but it is GREAT. I will completely agree that it is must have for anyone trying to become a jazz trumpet player. I picked up Clora Bryant's CD as well based on reading about her in the book -- she KILLS!! I didn't know anything about her prior to reading this book.

Comment by Sara

I feel like it would be an awesome idea to go pick up this book now. Seeing as how I'm a female lead trumpet and all. The entire blog that you've been doing has been and awesome tool, especially since I'm not even an upperclassman in high school yet and a lot of this has not taken me a long time to learn. I think you should keep it up...

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