My Top Ten Jazz Trumpet Players of Today

The inimitable Wynton Marsalis wins the Stanley Curtis "Best Jazz Trumpeter" once again.

The inimitable wins the “Stanley Curtis Best Jazz Trumpeter Award”–once again.

This is a list of my top-ten favorite living and playing in our time. By “jazz trumpet players,” I mean trumpeters who primarily play jazz improvisation. Although my list is a little “rearguard” rather than avant-garde, I am sure you will enjoy listening to these guys if you haven’t already. On each name, I give a hyperlink to a website that explains why this trumpeter is great. Then I also give a little taste of that player’s music with an embedded YouTube viewer. I welcome your opinions–feel free to post! Enjoy!

1. Wynton Marsalis. No one can touch him in terms of rhythmic drive, technique, awards, recognition and contributions. A straight-ahead approach with a focus on the roots of jazz. In my opinion he just gets better and better.

2. Tom Harrell. An amazing human being and jazz musician. Check out this solo (unaccompanied) on “Joy Spring” (click the word “solo”). Here’s an interesting interview/documentary produced by PBS–check out how brilliantly he speaks:



Dave Douglas and I at Blues Alley, Washington, DC (November 13, 2012)

and me at Blues Alley, Washington, DC (November 13, 2012)



3. Dave Douglas. Very original voice in jazz today. Great musician.







4. Ryan Kisor. Great jazz trumpeter, sideman and band leader. Here’s a video showing some awesome Woodie antique cars with Ryan’s quartet playing.



4.5. (Okay, I am going to sneak one–or more–into the top ten list) By the way, if you haven’t heard his brother, Justin, you should check him out! Listen to his group’s video of “Nica’s Dream” (around 2’20”). Justin used to be in the U.S. Navy Band Commodores.



And while I’m on THAT subject, the Commodores’ MU1s Tim Stanley and Jon Barnes are pretty awesome at improv. Just sayin’. Here’s Tim Stanley playing with the Afro Bop Alliance (listen at minute 4).



5. Jon Faddis. A traditional Dizzy disciple and, incidentally, a high-note master, a pleasure for trumpet players to listen.



6. Terence Blanchard. Master jazz trumpeter with a wide palette of jazz styles. Maybe I should have placed him higher in the list–after all he’s won 5 Grammys! He has also written a number of soundtracks.


7. Avishai Cohen. Gorgeous sound, thoughtful improvisation.



8. Claudio Roditi. The Brazilian-born, rotary-valve-playing trumpeter is a class act.


9. Dominick Farinacci. From Cleveland, this trumpeter sounds fantastic! Here’s a video of him playing Clifford’s solo on “Jordu” (while riding in an RV). Don’t worry, you’ll find a lot of other stuff that is actually Dominick’s.


10. Arturo Sandoval. Okay, I’m sorry for putting Arturo in tenth place–behind some punk from Cleveland. But maybe I saved one of the best for last! Here’s a fairly recent video.