Whether you are listening to rock or jazz, a trumpet can really bring a unique sound to the music composition that you are listening to. Trumpets are bright sounding brass instruments that really can bring life to your music.
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The Trumpet in a Nutshell
A trumpet is a brass instrument that you need to blow into to produce a sound. It is an instrument that forces you to pierce your lips to create the sound that you are looking for because there are only three buttons that you can press, which means that you will need to tighten and loosen your lips as you play to create certain sounds. Higher notes will require you to tighten your lips more as you play, and looser notes will require less tight lips as you play.
Jazz music is quite a personal experience, and not every musician is going to love jazz, but if you play the trumpet, finding your groove is essential, especially if you want your solos to stand out from the crowd. The more skilled your trumpet skills are, the better your solos will sound.
Here are some of the best trumpet solos that you will find when listening to music, and each one is going to give you a legendary player who really jumps out of the crowd.
1) West End Blues: Louis Armstrong
If you like Jazz, then there is a good chance that you have heard of Louis Armstrong. In fact, his trumpet in this song is still said to be one of the best jazz of all time, and when the music was much simpler, his phrasing and instinct when it came to music was far ahead of other jazz pieces of the time. In fact, the West End Blues were said to be able to compete musically with the highest order of musical expression that was available at the time that it was released. It was not the most complex piece of music when it came to the trumpet solo, but it did stand out as unique.
2) Maiden Voyage: Herbie Hancock
Music is a medium that can capture whatever you are talking about. Herbie Hancock brought this piece up to par by making it breathe the essence of the sea. The flow of the water, the creatures of all sizes, and the voyagers in the area are all incorporated into this content. First released in 1965, the album that this song was a part of had the same name as the song. Freddie Hubbard is the trumpet player in this piece, and his solo really brings the images of the sea to the surface. With the trumpet as the main voice of this piece, you will notice that some parts are more involved than others.
3) Salt Peanuts: Dizzy Gillespie
If you love trumpets in music, you have most likely heard of Dizzy Gillespie. Many people actually consider him one of the greatest trumpet players to ever grace the face of the earth; in fact, The New York Times even mentioned his trumpet playing in his obituary. Salted Peanuts was first released in 1942 as a part of the musical innovation that was created to combine jazz as well as bebop. This song was so popular when it was released that President Jimmy Carter had the chance to sing the song with Gillespie at a white house concert, which was actually one of the first.
4) Cherokee: Clifford Brown
If you like dexterity in a trumpet solo, then this is a great piece to explore that brings the trumpet solo to the front of the piece. Clifford Brown died horribly at the age of 26 in a car crash, but this song, Cherokee, will forever allow his trumpet skills to live on. It is one of the best examples of his skills that you can hear to this day, and there is also some amazing drumming in the piece that is played by Roach Quintet. This is a very versatile piece, especially when you consider the skill of the trumpet solo in the piece.
5) So What: Miles Davis
Miles Davis was known as one of the most innovative musicians in the jazz industry from the later 1940s until 1960. This song is the first track on his album entitled Kind of Blue that was released in the year 1959. This piece was skilled at being arranged perfectly; however, to me, the highlight of the piece was the trumpet, which can be heard throughout. There is also an extensive saxophone part in this piece, which can be enjoyed right after the trumpet solo. Uniquely enough, the double bass plays the main theme of the piece, which is rare for this type of jazz.
6) Ko-Ko: Charlie Parker
Ko-Ko is a piece that was very confusing to many music lovers because the sound was much faster than they were used to, making way for the new wave of bebop coming to the stage. In 1945, this sound was composed by saxophonist Charlie Parker, but the main trumpet solo was played by Miles Davis. In fact, the main chords were based loosely on Cherokee, which we have already looked at in this guide. The layout for the instruments to play starts out with the trumpet and the saxophone playing in unison. After that, there is a trumpet solo followed by a sax solo. The song finished up with the two instruments playing together.
7) Peace: Ornette Coleman
Peace is a song that is part of the album entitled The Shape of Jazz to Come, and it is actually the third album that was created by Ornette Coleman, who actually performed the songs as a saxophonist in the group. Don Cherry was the trumpet player that you hear throughout the song on the cornet, which is an instrument that is very closely related to the trumpet. Because of the unique layout of this piece, it will be remembered as one of the Jazz greats of the time, and it still shows you exactly what jazz can do for you when it comes to music that has very little rules.
8) Safe and Sound: Capital Cities
As a rock song that utilizes a trumpet solo, this is one that would stay in your head for hours after you heard it. The trumpet solo is one of the most memorable parts of the song, and it can first be heard at about one minute and 10 seconds into the song. This solo is not only heard just once in the song, but it can be heard a number of times throughout the song as it plays. I really love the sound that the trumpet creates in the music, especially since the solos are short and repetitive in the music.
9) Cobwebs and Strange: The Who
I really love the mixture of the sounds of the instruments that can be heard in this song. Of course, it is not a traditional song that you might expect from the band, but it is one that is quite memorable and exciting to listen. The Who does not have a lot of trumpet solos in their music, so this one is one that will stand out to you as a fan of the band. John Entwistle was a trained trumpetist for the band, but if the trumpet solo does not do it for you, this is a great option to expand your mind to different music.
10) What is Hip: Tower of Power
Tower for Power was a great jazz/rock band that was releasing albums during the late 60s. Greg Adams performed the trumpet solo in this piece, and it was one of the most memorable parts of the song. The trumpet solo can first be heard at 53 seconds into the song, but the instrument can be heard throughout the piece. First released on the album entitled Tower of Power in 1973, this song was the first one on the album list, and it was on the top 100 list for quite a while. This is a funk piece that has not only great trumpets but great sound as well.
11) Papa was a Rollin’ Stone: The Temptations
I love the trumpets in this classic rock soul combination. They can be heard first at about 30 seconds into the song, and they set the beat for the entire piece. There is not an overwhelming amount of trumpet in this piece, but just enough to call it a solo that anyone who loves The Temptations would be proud of. When the sounds of the voices come in at just under the two-minute mark, there is a beautiful trumpet solo played right before. Originally released in 1972, this song will stay in our memories forever as their final top 100 hit.
12) Penny Lane: The Beatles
If you have ever listened to the Beatles, then you have likely heard the song Penny Lane, which was released in 1967. David Mason, who was their trumpetist at the time, used a piccolo trumpet in this piece that had a bit of a higher notation that sounded specifically like the sound was created to be played to have a Beatles sound. If you know music at all, you will note that the piccolo trumpet is played over the bridge to make it stand out more. This song was a top 5 hit in the States, especially because of the trumpet part that stood out as amazing.
13) Zanzibar: Earth, Wind, and Fire
If you like Earth, Wind, and Fire, you know that their style is something that falls between a jazz and a soul piece of music. It was released in 1973, but this 13-minute track was truly something special that stood out from the rest of the music that was being released at the time. The part of this unique track that I love the most is the trumpet solo y Oscar Brashear, which starts at about two minutes and 45 seconds into the song, but there is also so a very nice guitar solo that many people find to be appealing.
14) Everything You’ve Done Wrong: Sloan
Trumpets are a great instrument to make a piece of music sound cheery, but this is one piece that does an excellent job of highlighting the instrument and making it much brighter than it would be without the trumpet in the mix. At about 45 seconds into the song, you will hear a fanfare of trumpets that you will never forget. They say that Canadians are a cheery bunch, but no one said that their music would be the same way. Originally released in 1996, this is a song that you will always remember having a cheery disposition as you heard it for the first time.
15) Miserlou: Dick Dale
Misserlou is a great song that is taken from a film called A Swingin’ Affair in 1963. As a surf rock song, you think of guitars and other instruments in this song, but there is an amazing trumpet solo that is played by Dick Dale himself. He is an amazing guitarist, but when a piece needs something a little more special, he is not afraid to pull out his trumpet to fit the bill. This song was the opening song in Pulp Fiction, and the trumpet solo paired with a saxophone to bring the piece together.
16) Close to Me: The Cure
At a time when saxophones were heard in most music that was being released, the Cure did something different by bringing in the trumpet for you to enjoy. In 1985, this sound came out as an original sound that was not big at the time, but it hit is big, especially with the trumpet solo part of the song that really stood out. At about two minutes into the song, the trumpet really flairs and it is a sound that brings an entirely different feel to the music. This song is actually a part of their sixth album, and it is the final song that you will hear on the album.
17) Ring of Fire: Johnny Cash
Everyone loves and knows who Johnny Cash is, but did you know that in the song Ring of Fire, there is a trumpet part, which is known as one of the best trumpet solos in the history of music. It helped bring the music away from his classic sound, but the trumpet fanfare from the trumpets is something that sticks in your mind when the song is played or mentioned. Originally released in the year 1963, this is one of the greatest songs that he ever released.
18) Spinning Wheel: Blood, Sweat, and Tears
This is one of the songs from Blood, Sweat, and Tears that is jazzier than many of their other releases. The song is only about two and a half minutes long, but after a minute and a half, you will really begin to hear the trumpet in the sound of the piece. The song was released as a single in the year 1969, and it peaked at number two on the charts for three weeks in a row. Lew Soloff was the trumpet player for the band, but most of the trumpet solos seemed to be edited out of the song for the single.
19) The Distance: Cake
When you want to go the distance, especially when it comes to music, you are going to want to add something to the piece that really sticks out. In this song, the trumpet that is played by Vince DiFiore really contributes to the entire song. This song was first releases in 1996, and it is still considered to be the band’s most popular release. Even though this song is only about three minutes long, it is not easy to forget what put it so close to the top of the charts.
20) Shipbuilding: Elvis Costello
As a jazz legend, the trumpet that can be heard in this song is played by Chet Baker. At the beginning of the song, the piano is heard, but when the trumpet comes into the piece, it will really wow you. Released in the year 1983, the song is about building the warships that the younger generation died fighting in. The trumpet solo comes in at one minute and 40 seconds, and it can be heard until the two-minute mark of the song. The trumpet solo really brings out the sadness of this heartbreaking tale of war.
21) The Royal Scam: Steely Dan
This song was released during the band’s fifth studio record during the year 1976. The album did well, went gold, and peaked on the charts. The trumpet solo, which is played by Chuck Findley, is one of the best most memorable trumpet solos that was recorded at the time. The trumpet sounds like it actually talks back to the piano, and gives the lyrics something to measure up to in the song. The song, which is a full six and a half minutes long, is one that plays the trumpet throughout. This is the final song that can be heard on the record, and to me, it is the most memorable.
22) Beginnings: Chicago
Chicago is a band that has done several solos across their career in making music, but the one that stands out for me the most is this song. First released in the year 1969, Lee Loughnane is a great trumpet player who brings revolutionary new ideas to the tones of the music. Eventually, the song hit number one on the Easy Listen chart in the US, and to this day, I remember the trumpet solo in the song. Speaking of a unique composition, this song was made using a 12 string guitar that did not have any low E strings.
As you can see, there are quite a few epic trumpet solos that you should check out, especially if you enjoy the sound of this instrument. If you know how to play, but you are unsure of which solos will work for you, then take the time to learn to play some of your favorites. If you have a favorite trumpet solo that we have left out of this guide, please tell us so that we can keep the information on the guide up to date and relevant.
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- Chow A. (2014, June 13). 14 Iconic Solos that showcase Jazz Music’s Incredible History. Retrieved from https://mic.com/articles/90959/14-iconic-solos-that-showcase-jazz-music-s-incredible-history#.tSdt2OrtI
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