Essential Trumpet Albums
Listening is Just Another Part of Practicing
Before you say “I don’t want to listen to classical music” let me just tell you that fun trumpet music does exist, in abundance, and I’ve put a lot of it right here. See the thing is, you simply cannot learn to play well if you don’t listen to great players, that’s just how it is! Below is a list of influential, Grammy-winning, groundbreaking trumpet albums. However, it’s not a final list. It’s simply a tiny fraction of what’s out there waiting to be played. If you never listen to trumpet music and simply don’t know how to get started, pick something from here. Whether your taste is latin jazz, classical, orchestral or even pop, you will find something here to throw in your iPod. Enjoy.
- Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” – Style: Blues
This is in my opinion (and pretty much every professional music critic) one of the best blues albums ever recorded. While you listen, just know that Miles showed up to this recording session with just a fews licks written on a piece of paper.
- Arturo Sandoval “Hot House” – Style: Latin Jazz
Have your mind blown by Arturo’s virtuosic solos and crazy amount of band talent. This album won the Latin Jazz Grammy in 1999. My favorite tune? “Cuban American Medley” because it’s just so much fun!
- The Brecker Brothers – “Heavy Metal Be-Bop” – Style: Jazz-Funk
Funk is usually characterized by electronic sounds, so if that’s your thing AND you like jazz, then press play on this album. The brothers were both known worldwide, won many awards and influenced the funk landscape forever. So get to it and get funky.
- Count Basie and His Orchestra “April in Paris” – Style: Big Band, Standards
If you have an old soul and simply love listening to those 1950’s jazz tunes then this album is a must for you. The Count Basic Orchestra started in 1935 and guess what, it’s still alive today as a “ghost band”, which is a band that continues after its leader has passed away.
- Allen Vizzutti, Bobby Shew and Vincent DiMartino “Trumpet Summit” – Style: Commercial, Pops
Three trumpet masters and one live album. All of these guys have propelled jazz forward and played alongside the world’s best instrumentalists and singers.
- Alison Balsom “Haydn & Hummel: Trumpet Concertos” – Style: Classical
Alison Balsom is one of the best trumpet players in modern history. She plays these concertos from the classical repertoire beautifully, with finesse and impeccable technique.
- Ole Edvard Antonsen – “French Trumpet Concertos” – Style: 19th and 20th Century
Antonsen is one of the most mind-blowing players out there. His tone is crystal clear, his flexibility is astonishing and don’t even get me started on his multiple tonguing. These French concertos have never sounded so good.
- Maurice Andre – “The Trumpet Shall Sound” – Style: Baroque
One of the his best albums (although there were many), truly displaying his unmatched talent. If you enjoy baroque music this is it, and if you don’t, then this is where you start loving it. Maurice left this earth in 2012, but he left us with one of the strongest trumpet legacies of all time.
- Wynton Marsalis – “Classic Wynton” – Style: Various Classical
No list of best trumpet albums is complete without Marsalis. Don’t know where to start? Well you could try track number 20, “Flight of the Bumblebee”, because c’mon, we both know you want to.
- Phil Smith and the New York Philharmonic – “The Phil Smith Collection: Trumpet Highlights Vol.1” – Style: Orchestral
In this album you can hear highlights of Smith’s magnificent playing with the NYP, a symphony he played with for 36 years as principal trumpet. He retired in 2013 and is now professor of trumpet at The University of Georgia.
- Doc Severinsen – “Trumpet Spectacular” – Style: Pops
“Pops” in trumpet playing stands for “popular”, so when an album features pops music you will hear arrangements of known pieces, like “Napoli” in this album. The track on this albums are all super fun. Start with track 6 “A Carmen Fantasy.”
- Al Hirt – “Pops Goes the Trumpet” – Style: Pops
Al Hirt and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, it really doesn’t get much better than that. That is all!
- Canadian Brass – “Takes Flight” – Style: Chamber, Brass Quintet
If you like listening to more ensemble than solo music, then you will love the sound of the Canadian Brass, who have been around since 1970. This album here though is fairly new and features some classics such as “Little Fugue in G Minor” as well as newer pieces like the awesome “Killer Tango.”
- Gileno Santana & Tuniko Goulart – “Inevitavel” – Style: Bossa Nova, Original
Gileno Santana is a Brazilian trumpet player who plays with a wonderfully hazy sound. His music is truly fun to listen to and I find that I often can’t stop humming the tunes from this album for days. Start with “Malaco” to get a gist of what this album is all about.
- Rafael Mendez – “The Legendary Virtuosity of Trumpet Players” – Style: Pops, Mexican-Style Playing
Mendez was a Mexican trumpet player who made the trumpet popular in Hollywood in the 50’s. His rocket-fast double tonguing was unmatched and simply stunning. You will notice he plays with a fast vibrato, much like Mariachi players.
Other players and ensembles you should check out
James Ackley │ Tine Thing Helseth │ David Hickman │ Caleb Hudson │ Hakan Hardenberger │ Sergei Nakariakov │ Timofei Dokschitzer │The American Brass Quintet │ The Empire Brass │ Mnozil Brass │ The President’s Own United States Marine Band │ The Berlin Philharmonic │ The Boston Symphony Orchestra │ The Chicago Symphony Orchestra