Section playing #1: Big band trumpet

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I am writing a series of short articles on what I believe to be good section playing in many contexts, and as I have stumbled upon some fabulous big band clips today, I shall start here!

Section playing #1: Big band trumpet

By Michael Barkley:

Contrary to the image clip to the left, big band trumpet is not about the dubba-C. As soon as you mention lead trumpet, the first thing that pops into most trumpeter’s minds is range related. Somewhat mirroring Bobby Shew’s fantastic article on bigband lead playing, I want to share some clips and thoughts on what I believe appropriate section and lead playing sounds like. I won’t link clips of what I think it isn’t because I know by doing so I will inevitably choose someone’s favourite moment (possibly!). I trust that you can use your judgement here! Bobby’s article is under “Clinic” at:

To keep it simple, assuming that the technical control of the instrument is fundamentally there, we should observe some simple rules.

1) It is not a one man show. Work together in the section, and show your personality in your tone, style and solos.

2) It is not a range battle. Let the lead player take these notes, out of respect for the player and music. If you need to play high, do so in a solo.

3) Assume the style and sound of the lead player, or something close to, as this will make the section sound much more together.

4) Balance to support the section. The lead part, due to the register, will carry well. The lower parts need to balance to this and achieve a balance.

With that in mind, here are some fantastic clips. Granted the music may not be to everyone’s taste, but the playing is just fabulous.

Simon Gardner, Mike Lovatt, Craig Wilde, Andy Greenwood

Mike Lovatt, Pat White, Jim Lynch, Danny Marsden

Bob Summers, Wayne Bergeron, Willie Murillo, Dan Savant

The Airmen of Note

I think you can hear a superb balance in all of those clips. I also believe that this information is relevant to all players in the ensemble; balance, control, sound, style. All fundamental to good ensemble playing. There are many, many more clips like these; Basie Big Band, NY Big Band etc etc… but too many for one post. Enjoy your search!


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