The World of Jazz Trumpet
The World of Jazz Trumpet: A Comprehensive History and Practical Philosophy
Hal Leonard Corporation
320 pages, softcover
Who was E.W. Gravitt?
Trumpeter Scotty Barnhart answers the question in his book, along with much insightful commentary about the way things have developed. He traces the origin of the instrument and how it has been used in jazz.
With a forward by Wynton Marsalis, the book takes off on a whirlwind tour of jazz trumpeters, emphasizing the pioneers who led the way.
Barnhart, who was born in Atlanta and attended Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, lives in Los Angeles and tours with The Count Basie Orchestra. He's been with the band for over ten years. His superb big band soloing has been documented repeatedly.
Thus, many of the opinions that Barnhart offers in his book come from direct experience. His chapters on Theory and Application are of particular importance, since they offer solid advice for the trumpet student.
Brief interviews with Arvell Shaw, Sweets Edison, Clark Terry, Humphrey Lyttleton, Clora Bryant, Maynard Ferguson, Sonny Cohn, Ted Curson, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Bradford, Chuck Mangione, Valery Ponomarev, Barrie Lee Hall, Wendell Brunious and Wynton Marsalis lend credence to Barnhart's instructional philosophy and shed light on the trials and tribulations of a professional trumpeter's career. Shaw, a bassist who worked with Louis Armstrong in the early years, discusses the trumpeter and his impact on all who followed in his path.
Serving as a suitable reference, Barnhart's book includes biographical thumbnail sketches for 67 influential jazz trumpeters. Like most books about jazz history, however, very little information is included about trumpeters born after 1945. Early on, he mentions several in passing. And he dedicates a chapter to women trumpeters, of whom several represent younger generations. Thus, the discussion of contemporary trumpeters appears to be limited to: Marsalis, Barnhart, Jon Faddis, Arturo Sandoval, Terence Blanchard, Saskia LaRoo, Ingrid Jensen, Stacy Rowles and Gunhild Carling.
In a comprehensive work of this nature, it's impossible to mention everyone. Barnhart does provide a list of 226 Honorable Mention trumpeters who've contributed to the development of modern jazz. Several others appear in the discography that he's provided. But a handful of key jazz trumpeters with whom we're all quite familiar, aren't mentioned anywhere in the book.
Much of Barnhart's World of Jazz Trumpet centers on the Count Basie Orchestra and the expressive style that the band's trumpeters have given us throughout the years. The author and several of his interviewees discuss various techniques for attaining an individualized sound, such as plunger mutes, Harmon mutes, Derby shakes, wah-wah techniques, half-valve sweeps, and growls, that lend a distinctive flair to the music. All of this discussion, of course, could be summed up in two words: Clark Terry.
No mention is made of the EVI and other electronic innovations that are available to the jazz trumpeter. Significant changes entered the arena at the close of the 1960s, and those developments should never be overlooked. The electronic trumpet may not be preferable to most jazz trumpeters, but it's there, and it does offer a creative tool worth looking at.
If it weren't for the lack of adequate proofreading, Barnhart's book would make a valuable reference. Numerous misspellings, typographical errors, omitted words, and incomplete statements leave the reader hanging out to dry all too often.
As for E.W. Gravitt... it turns out that he may have been the very first jazz trumpeter. Even before Buddy Bolden. Barnhart has done his research, and for that we're grateful.