The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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Ever since small combo and orchestral jazz began, it is the 'trumpet that has usually carried the burden of leadership. The leader may be a pianist, clarinetist or saxophonist, but he must cede his authority for every ensemble, every rousing tutti that lends the group its power and its true voice to the trumpet.
During the first decade or two the leader almost invariably was the musician who played trumpet—or, technically, the cornet. The difference between the two is largely academic. "I remember once when Lu Watters was sick and tired of all this cornet versus trumpet nonsense," Turk Murphy has recalled. *He went into another room and played a cornet and then a trumpet for some of these romantics. And none of them could tell one from the other "l There are, nevertheless, musicians and critics who claim that the cornet has a more rugged, mordant sound while that of the trumpet is fuller and more brilliant Personally, having heard Bobby Hackett and others in record­ings on both instruments, I have often found them impossible to distinguish and advise the reader not to be embarrassed if he feels inclined to treat them as in effect the same instrument.
Louis Armstrong played both cornet and trumpet, concentrat­ing on the latter from 1928 on. Bix Beiderbecke was a cornetist; Rex Stewart, Muggsy Spanier and many others have usually played cornet. The visual identification can easily be made, as the cornet is shorter.
The singing, soaring tone of the trumpet (for the remainder of this chapter the word will be used to denote either instru-