Are you familiar/w orchestral trumpet sections?

July 17, 2023, 4:02 PM · I'm asking since I assume most participants are tuned-in to the orchestral world.

A question came up regarding whether it's common for orchestral trumpet players to moonlight as lead players in stage/jazz bands where a lot of loud high-note playing is required.

I'm talking about higher-tier orchestras.

My assumption is that if someone wins a chair in a good pro orchestra their priority is going to be to maintain their orchestral sound and accuracy but maybe there are a number of players who do both.

Anyone have any insight?

Replies (11)

July 17, 2023, 4:06 PM · I would be very surprised if trumpet players in major symphony orchestras moonlighted in jazz bands. Even in my medium level orchestra, they didn’t do that. Why would they? Two completely different styles, and the major symphony orchestra players (a) don’t need the money and (b) do need the time to practice and/or rest their chops. There is a limit.
Edited: July 17, 2023, 6:02 PM · It's not very likely that a major symphony trumpet player would also spend a significant amount of time playing in a jazz band, but there are freelancers that tend to do work in multiple genres. They might be a substitute player for a few orchestras while doing jazz/commercial style gigs. That said, those cross-genre players likely have a lot of extensive training in each of the genres they play.
July 17, 2023, 6:11 PM · It's not unheard of in regional orchestras where the musicians are only with the orchestra for a few days before the concert, and concerts are once every month or two. But it becomes difficult to impossible in orchestras above that level.

One other thing about cross-genre playing: Keith Jarrett and Wynton Marsalis, who are among the few people who have had success in both genres, have said in interviews that they could not play both classical and jazz in the same concert. It involves a complete change in mindset.

Edited: July 17, 2023, 7:32 PM · Jazz musicians play in studio orchestras for a lot of film soundtracks. Dave Grusin’s film scores (Tootsie, Havana) have featured some of the top jazz instrumentalists. Grusin’s music has both jazz and classical influences.
July 17, 2023, 7:44 PM · Benny Goodman was another trumpeter who was a great jazz musician and then a great classical musician. But he did not do them at the same time. He switched careers.
July 17, 2023, 11:42 PM · Benny Goodman played clarinet; he did take a side trip into classical after completely reworking his technique.
Edited: July 18, 2023, 1:43 AM · While some trumpeters have incredible chops and are able to wing it in multiple genres, there is a huge world of difference between playing lead trumpet in a top jazz band and playing principal in a major symphony. The numbers of folks who are truly top-notch lead players like Doc Severinson, Wayne Bergeron, Eric Miyashiro, and the like are a small part of the trumpet population, and one wouldn't find them in an orchestra section anywhere. It's also unlikely that one would find say, the trumpet section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a big band gig, although the players themselves would have had the experience at some point during their musical training. Some players like Ryan Anthony (RIP) and the Canadian Brass folks certainly have crossed over a lot of times, so it does happen though.

Also note the difference between people who are primarily soloists, versus those who primarily play in sections. The clarinetist Benny Goodman's venture into classical music largely involved playing chamber music, like this recording of the Mozart Quintet with the Budapest Quartet, and appearing as a soloist with orchestras--Copland wrote his concerto for Goodman. However, one would not have found him in the woodwind section of an major orchestra, although he did play in radio orchestras, broadway musicals, and session recording work early in his career.

One of my trumpet colleagues on the west coast is principal of a major opera orchestra, substitutes with one of the biggest symphonies in the country, but also plays movie and television soundtrack sessions in Hollywood, and previously was in drumcorps. I get the impression that a lot more of the younger trumpeters in the past couple decades have a more diverse approach to their instrument, and don't specialize quite as early.

July 18, 2023, 6:42 AM · @Mary Ellen - Whoops. I was simply thinking Jazz musicians who transitioned into classical. Thanks for the correction.
July 18, 2023, 7:13 AM · A lot of bass players in full-time orchestras play other genres in their off time. I don't know about the trumpeters...any time I was near them I had earplugs in.
July 18, 2023, 4:04 PM · Trumpet is a very physical instrument. A change of genres requires a change in tone quality, change in embouchre, sometimes even a change in mouthpiece. If you make it to the top pro spots in any one of those trumpet sub-specialties, there is little need or motivation to add something else to your tool kit. Wynton Marsalis is very good with the Baroque trumpet concertos.
July 18, 2023, 9:20 PM · It is a rare musician who does both, trumpeter or not. In my experience classical musicians are especially unlikely to pursue multiple styles, whereas jazz musicians take a wide interest in everything... but they probably wouldn't make orchestra auditions.

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