As a kid, I remember watching the TV show “The Green Hornet” and the wailing, fast hitting trumpet sound of the theme song. I had no idea what a trumpet was or who Al Hirt was back then. I remember that trumpet song though. Fast forward a few years and I’m sitting in the admissions office with my mom for my new school, entering the 5th grade. I knew I wanted to join band. I had every intention of playing the drums, for some reason I thought they were cool. When they asked me, “What instrument do you want to play?” I said “Trumpet”. It just came out. And so, began my journey of discovery of this great instrument, lifelong bandmates, and the fascination with famous trumpet players. We’ve assembled famous trumpet players, in no particular order, for your listening pleasure. Included are links to their websites (if they have them) and the best trumpet sheet music available from them. Again, each player is amazing, incredibly talented, gifted, and have shared their trumpet playing with the world. Please let us know in the comments who is your favorite and who should be added to these lists.
Most Famous Trumpet Players
Here is a short list of “legends” or famous trumpet players that even people that don’t play the trumpet have likely heard of.
Carl Hilding “Doc” Severinsen started playing with his high school band age the ripe old age of 7 years. He became a household name in 1962 with the Jonny Carson “The Tonight Show” as the conductor and lead trumpet player. His sound is unparalleled to this day. He released over 30 albums, won Grammy awards, and has been an influence on most every trumpet player. Some consider him the “Best Trumpet Player” of our time. He retired from active conducting in 2007. Here he is in 2015 at the young age of 87 playing “A Night In Tunisia” for a Cancer charity event.
“I always thought what a great thing Maynard was doing. He was out there with a big band keeping jazz going and keeping big bands going at a time when no one else was doing it.” Doc Severinsen
The late great Maynard Ferguson. At the age of 11 he played solo trumpet with the Canadian Broadcasting Company Orchestra. By the age of 14, he had a full scholarship with the French Conservatory of Music. He led the Birdland Dream Band staring what we know today as “Big Band Jazz”. His charisma conducting and playing lead trumpet made him in demand far and wide. He made many songs into famous “trumpet songs” through his arrangements.
Maynard Ferguson Trumpet Sheet Music
“What jazz musician played a bent trumpet?” The late great trumpet player “Dizzy” is the musician that played the famous bent trumpet. His autobiography tells a story that someone accidently fell on his trumpet and bent the bell upward. He said he liked how it sounded and that it projected over the audience better. For sure he is one of the most famous jazz trumpet players.
Louis Daniel Armstrong was also known as “Satchmo”. He was not only a great trumpet player and perhaps the most famous jazz trumpet player, but a great singer. He started touring in the early 1920s and stopped only due to his passing in 1971.
The late, great Alois Maxwell Hirt is another famous jazz trumpet player. Like Louis Armstrong, Al came from New Orleans and was instrumental in creating the unique Dixie jazz sound. Here is Al playing his most famous song, “Java” which sold over a million copies in 1963.
Arturo is a 10 time Grammy award winner that started playing trumpet at age 12. He studied under the late great Dizzy Gillespie. Here is Arturo playing “Funky Cha-Cha”.
The late, great Miles Davis. He has been credited with having the most influence in the development and evolution of jazz music in the 20th century. Miles is another famous jazz trumpet player that paved the way for many. Here he is playing what is considered his most famous song “Stella By Starlight”:
Chet was a jazz trumpet player known by many as the “James Dean of Jazz”. His soft, jazz stylings were different than most of his era. His jazz trumpet playing and “Hollywood” good looks really made him stand out. Here he is playing “Autumn Leaves”.
Chet Baker Trumpet Sheet Music
There are so many more that should be here, so please let us know in the comments who you feel is the “Best Trumpet Player”.
Famous Trumpet Players Today
This list is about current day trumpet players that amaze and inspire today.
Alison is known for her amazing classical trumpet, piccolo trumpet, and Baroque trumpet performances. She has performed with most of the famous orchestras in the world. Her rich tone, articulation, and emotion that her sound has, is incredible. Here she is playing “Rondo – Minore – Maggiore with the London Mozart Players. She starts playing at 0:23:
Wynton is famous for his jazz compositions, directions, arrangements, and performances. Here he is with his Septet playing “Embraceable You”.
Chris elevated the trumpet with his smooth jazz performance with his recordings. His rich, warm sound, crisp articulation, and delicate touch are extraordinary. Here he is in Japan, playing “Summer Time”.
Eric Miyashiro came from Hawaii and started playing professionally at age 14. He played with the late, great Maynard Ferguson. Here he is playing the original theme from Star Trek with the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. The last note is a beautiful double C (3:42 mark and slurs up to it at 4:05 which is the end of his playing):
Wayne is well known for his work on many Disney movie themes such as The Incredibles (click the link to hear him play it with Louis Dowdeswell), Aladdin, etc.. He has worked on over 400 movie and TV soundtracks. He started his career with the first chair in the late, great Maynard Ferguson band. Here is Wayne playing Maynard’s version of MacArthur Park (click the link to hear other Famous Trumpet Players play this song).
Louis is a younger (compared to many on this list) English trumpet player. He has a built a tremendous following on YouTube with his covers. He plays with what appears almost no effort. He’s trained and collaborated with Wayne Bergeron on several songs. He Watch him as he continues to gain popularity. Here is Louis playing the Simon and Garfunkel 70’s hit, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Louis Dowdeswell Trumpet Music
Female Trumpet Players
Alison is mentioned above in the “Famous Trumpet Players” list. Here is Alison Balsom playing a rotary Piccolo Trumpet. Her performance is incredible: “Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in A Minor”.
Like Alison, Tine is an amazing classic trumpet player. Here she is with the Junge Sinfonie Berlin (Young Symphony Berlin), playing “Fanfare” by Kjetil Bjerkestrand.
Is a young, highly accomplished, jazz musician. She is a wonderful singer, jazz trumpet player, and jazz saxophone artist. She performs with the soul and jazz stylings of some of the greats. She started playing the trumpet at the age of 7. She is a great jazz trumpet player that is also a great singer. She says she loves both being a jazz trumpet player and a jazz singer equally. Here she is with her Quartet playing Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale” where her trumpet playing is showcased. The next video is Andrea showing off her beautiful jazz singing and trumpet improvisational artistry in a piano duet with Ignasi Terraza in the classic jazz song “Shiny Stockings”.
Cindy is sure to become one (if not already) of the well-known famous jazz trumpet players. She has a beautiful tone and improvisation riffs. Here she is playing her song “Brooklyn Bounce” from her 2009 album “Bloom”:
Lucienne is a French jazz trumpet player and the first women to receive the prestigious Arthur Waseer Preis (Arthur Waseer Prize) in 2019. Her smooth sound, and her soulful improvisation licks are really something. Here’s Lucienne at 18 years old recording the Rogers and Hammerstein classic “My Favorite Things”:
Trumpet Range or “What’s The Highest Note on Trumpet”
Many of the famous trumpet players demonstrate an incredible range. Effortless power up and down the scale. But it’s the upper register that gets attention most often. Like the age-old question “how old are you?”, every trumpet player gets asked or has asked, “What is the highest note on the trumpet you can play?”. Not everyone is fascinated with the upper register. In fact, the trumpet range has been written in many reference books as low C (or concert b-flat) below the staff to C (concert b-flat) above the staff. Well, many famous trumpet players and not so famous trumpet players can hit notes well above that, like an octave or more above that. Here’s Doc Severinsen in a short clip from the “Tonight Show” playing a Double “C”. You know, the one two octaves above the “C” in the middle of the staff.
Rock on bandmates.