The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
The Trumpet
ment) is one of the most flexible sounds in jazz. Its range stems from a concert F, a fifth below middle C, up two or three octaves beyond middle C, the exact ceiling being determined by the lip, embouchure, lung power and general physical equipment of the performer. In the early Armstrong era, when Louis made a pracĀ­tice of building tension by climbing a scalar ladder to a high note finale, the climax that staggered his audiences usually stayed close to a C two octaves above middle C. Eddie Tompkins and Paul Webster, in the Lunceford band of the mid-1980s, began to push the horizons, only to be topped in the 1940s by Cat AnderĀ­son of the Ellington band and later by Maynard Ferguson with Kenton; but their high notes were more often achieved for melodramatic effect than for any intrinsic musical part in the performances. It has been said that Anderson plays notes only a dog can hear, because nobody else would care to.
The trumpet is flexible, though, in another important respect: its tone and volume can be modified by a variety of mutes. A sharp, biting quality is obtainable from the straight tin mute; a softer and rather mellow sound, often used by Buck Clayton, is offered by the cup mute; a quiet and almost ethereal tone, especially effective in section work by trumpet teams, stems from the so-called Harmon mute; and the growl or *wa-wa" effect is produced by the rubber plunger. Trumpets also make use of derby hats for a reduction of sound, and for a special crescendo effect derived from the waving of these derbies in front of the horn; the felt hat or felt cloth mute has the effect of damping the tone in a mellifluous manner.
The trumpet is a B Flat transposing instrument, i.e. a piano part written in B Flat would have a corresponding trumpet part written in C.
The early jazz trumpeter-leaders have been the heroes of countless legends in jazz history books. The first on whom we have enough recorded evidence to form any judgment are Nick La Rocca, of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, and Joe "King* Oliver, Louis , Armstrong's mentor. The styles of La Rocca, Sharkey Bonano and other New Orleans pioneers may be said to have led indirectly to that of Bix Beiderbecke; however, Ben Pollack and others have stated that Bix was just "a poor imitation