Most Famous Trumpet Players Today And Of All Time – A LIST

A famous trumpet player playing his trumpet

Famous Trumpet Players Today-
A List Of The Most Well-Known Trumpeters Today and of All Time

Let’s have some fun and talk a bit about some really successful and well-known trumpet players.

We will start with a list of famous trumpet players today and then, in the second half of the article, take a look at the most famous trumpet players of all time.

This is going to be fun and entertaining, so grab a cup of coffee and stay for a while.

Note: the trumpet players are NOT presented in any particular order as this article is not written with the purpose of ranking the trumpeters against each other in any way.

Famous Trumpet Players Today:

-Håkan Hardenberger-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Notice Håkans gorgeous sound on the cornet
  2. Pay attention to his phrasing and musicality. It’s always there, even during the fast and difficult parts of the piece.

Short About Håkan Hardenberger

Håkan Hardenberger (born October 27, 1961 in Malmö, Sweeden) He started playing trumpet at the age of 8 after getting his first trumpet, as a christmas gift, from his parents. When recieving his trumpet, it was according to Håkan himself, “love at first sight” and it didn’t take long until he was practicing for several hours every day.

Some Special Things Håkan Is Known For
  • Håkan Hardenberger has had more trumpet concertos written for him than any other trumpeter out there. A true pioneer in getting modern composers to write music for the trumpet.
  • Håkan is well-known for not shying away from incredible difficult trumpet pieces, and as a classical trumpet soloist, he did not take “the easy” route by only performing baroque music, like so many other trumpet soloists do.
  • Håkan Hardenberger is a first class trumpet virtuoso with an astonishing technique. When it comes to modern classical music, Håkan is truly one of the most famous trumpet players today.

-Chris Botti-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Listen to Chirs Botti’s very tasteful, slight airy, beautiful sound
  2. Notice how he takes his time and never rushes through phrases. Of course,  also listen to how much heart he puts into the music.

Short About Chris Botti

Chris Botti (born October 12 1962 in Portland Oregon) He is a skillful trumpeter and a good composer. Chris won the Grammy Award in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category, for the album Impressions in the year 2013. Four of Botti’s albums have reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard jazz albums chart. Chris Botti is perhaps the most well known trumpet player today.

Some Special Things Chris Botti Is Known For
  • Chris Botti is a trumpeter especially known for his “easy to listen to” music.
  • His skillful ability to fuse smooth jazz and pop together in a very tasteful way.

-Wynton Marsalis-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Just watch and listen to Wynton’s flawless technique
  2. Notice how relaxed his cornet playing is

Short About Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis  (born October 18 1961 in New Orleans) Wynton is an American trumpeter, composer, teacher, and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Wynton has won numerous Grammy Awards and also, he is the only trumpeter in history of time to win both a Grammy Award in classical music AND jazz music during the same year.

Wynton Marsalis was one of my very first trumpet playing idols when I was growing up. He is also one of the absolute most famous trumpet players today. The  google search results also confirmed this, when writing this article, as Wynton’s name was the one that had the highest searches per month.

Some Special Things Wynton Marsalis is Well Known For
  • Wynton Marsalis known for his first class trumpet virtuosity in BOTH classical music and jazz. Trumpet playing at this very high level, in two completely different styles, is something not many trumpet virtuosos out there will ever achieve.
  • His amazing technique, and lightning fast double tongue, is something most of us, mere mortal trumpeters, can only dream of possessing.

-Ole Edvard Antonsen-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Try to see if you can find one single wrong, or split note, in this performance. Should I give it away? …well, OK, there are none, and the piece is DIFFICULT!
  2. Agility, speed and tonguing. The really difficult part starts at 1:41 into the video, but just listen to the whole thing!

Short About Ole Edvard Antonsen

Ole Edvard Antonsen (born April 25, 1962 in Norway) He is a first class trumpet virtuoso, musician and conductor. He plays multiple genres very well but is most known as a classical trumpeter. Ole Edvard Antonsen is one of the most well-known trumpeters in Europe and the whole world, today.

Some Special Things Ole Edvard Antonsen is Well Known For
  • Ole Edvard Antonsen is famous for his phenomenal, blistering technique and ability to play extremely difficult pieces.
  • Ole is also well-known for playing different genres, all at a virtuoso level. This, of course, contributes to him reaching a big audience and thus being one of the most famous trumpeters alive today.

-Wayne Bergeron-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Listen how Wayne has total control over the trumpets upper register.
  2. Make sure to notice how rhythmically and groovy he plays even though the trumpet solo is very difficult

Short About Wayne Bergeron

Wayne Bergeron (born January 16, 1958 in Hartford Connecticut, USA). Wayne Bergeron is an American jazz/lead trumpeter who has had an incredible rich music career, for example playing lead trumpet with the, one and only, great legend, Maynard Ferguson.

Some Special Things Wayne Bergeron is Well Known For
  • His incredible upper register playing. Wayne is known for being one of, if not THE best, and most famous lead trumpet player in the whole world. He has great control over the upper register and never sacrifice musicality because of this, as he is one of the few trumpeters that can match high notes and music tastefully.
  • You have probably heard his trumpet playing  in various movies as Wayne also does a lot of studio work in Los Angeles.

-Sergei Nakariakov-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. One of the first things that struck me, many years back, when I first heard Sergei play the trumpet was his phrasing and musicality.
  2. Then of course his virtuosity. Please listen to the whole video to really get a good picture of Sergei’s playing. That said, the very impressive stuff starts at 1:50 into the video.

Short About Sergei Nakariakov

Sergei Nakariakov (born May 10, 1977 Gorky, Russia). Sergei Nakariakov is a Russian trumpet virtuoso who, already as a small kid, frequently performed difficult trumpet cornet/trumpet pieces like “The carnival of Venice”  much to, adult professional, trumpeters amazement.

Some Special Things Sergei Nakariakov is Well Known For
  • Playing gorgeous pieces, like for example pieces originally written for cello, on his big flugelhorn.
  • His extreme technical virtuosity. It’s probably safe to say that his virtuosity is at least at the top 5 level, of all most famous trumpet players of today.

-Alison Balsom-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Listen and notice the elegant way she plays the c-trumpet. The elegance is there in the whole register, from the lowest notes to the highest. It’s all even.
  2. Sound sound sound!

Short About Alison Balsom

Alison Balsom (born October 7, 1978) is an English trumpet virtuoso, producer, arranger and curator. She has won three classic Brit Award and three German Echo Awards.

Some Special Things Alismon Balsom is Well Known For
  • Alison is well known for her excellent handling of the piccolo trumpet and has recorded some of the most difficult baroque music playing the piccolo.
  • She is also known for her superb handling of the, difficult to master,  natural trumpet.

-Arturo Sandoval-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Listen to how Arturo uses rhythmic accents in his improvisation.
  2. Notice Arturos big and resonant trumpet sound.
  3. Also, of course, notice Arturos incredible musicality.

Short About Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval (born november 6, 1949) is a trumpet virtuoso, composer, arranger and multi Grammy award winner born in Cuba, but now living in America. He met Dizzy Gillespie in 1977 who became is mentor and very good friend and also helped Arturo escape the life in Cuba to move to America. Arturo Sandoval is without a doubt one of the most famous trumpet players today.

Some Special Things Arturo Sandoval is Well Known For
  1. His incredible musicality and improvisation  skills
  2. His exceptional trumpet range from rock solid pedal notes (Arturo don’t like the word pedal notes, but just call them low notes) to the very high trumpet register of double c and beyond.
  3. His big and resonant trumpet sound.
  4. His love and passion for music.

-James Morrison-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Just watch and listen to how skillfully James masters all the different musical instruments.
  2. Listen to Morrison’s phenomenal improvisation skills

Short About James Morrison

James Morrison (born 11 November 1962 in New South Wales, Australia). James is a musician from Australia most known for his trumpet virtuosity. However, trumpet is not the only instrument he plays, as he is also a virtuoso on the trombone, euphonium, saxophone and more…

Some Special Things James Morrison is Well Known For
  • His phenomenal improvisation skills and his trumpet high register
  • His multi-instrumental virtuosity

 -Doc Severinsen-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Listen to Doc’s complete mastery over the trumpets upper register (and the whole register, for that matter)
  2. Notice the big and gorgeous sound Doc has and how every note is exactly in tune.

Short About Doc Severinsen

Doc Severinsen (born July 7, 1927, in Arlington, Oregon) is an American trumpet virtuoso and band leader. One of the incredible many things Doc has done over the years is leading the band for The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. Doc is one of the absolute most famous trumpet players today.

Some Special Things Doc Severinsen is Well Known For

  1. His amazing trumpet virtuosity, leaving no piece too difficult for him to play.
  2. His trumpet practice hours. Doc could probably be the trumpeter who has logged in the most practice hours during his years.
  3. At the time of writing this article doc is 91 years old and still performs at a high level.

-Herb Alpert-

Things to listen for in this video:

  1. Notice the easy to listen to music.
  2. If you check out more of Herb’s videos and playing you’ll see that he puts great emphasis on entertainment value. Thumbs up!

Short About Herb Alpert

Herb Alpert (born March 31, 1935 in Los Angeles California) is a trumpet player that has made more trumpet albums than most trumpeter to this date.

Some Special Things Herb Alpert is Well Known For

  • Herb Alpert is known for having easy to listen to trumpet music that appeals to a big audience.
  • Alpert is the only recording artist to hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart as both a vocalist (“This Guy’s in Love with You”, 1968), and an instrumentalist (“Rise”, 1979).

Most Famous Trumpet Players Of All Times That Are No Longer With Us

Maynard Ferguson

(May 4, 1928 – August 23, 2006) was a Canadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader. He came to prominence in Stan Kenton’s orchestra before forming his own big band in 1957. He was noted for his bands, which often served as stepping stones for up-and-coming talent, his versatility on several instruments, and his ability to master the upper register of the trumpet in a way that most trumpet players can not. Read more on wiki here

Louis Armstrong

(August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed SatchmoSatch, and Pops,was an American trumpeter, composer, vocalist and occasional actor who was one of the most influential figures in jazz. When it comes to the general population, Louis Armstrong is probably the most famous trumpet player ever. Read more on wiki here

Clifford Brown

(October 30, 1930 – June 26, 1956) was an American jazz trumpeter. He died at the age of 25 in a car accident, leaving behind four years’ worth of recordings. Read more on wiki here

Derek Watkins 

(2 March 1945 – 22 March 2013) was an English jazz, pop and classical trumpet player. Best known for his lead trumpet work on the soundtracks of James Bond films. Read more on wiki here

Dizzy Gillespie

(October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, and singer. Read more on wiki here

Harry James

(March 15, 1916 – July 5, 1983) was an American musician who is best known as a trumpet-playing band leader who led a big band from 1939 to 1946. He broke up his band for a short period in 1947 but shortly after he reorganized and was active again with his band from then until his death in 1983. Read more on wiki here

Adolph Herseth

(July 25, 1921 – April 13, 2013) was principal trumpet in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1948 until 2001, and served as principal trumpet emeritus from 2001 until his retirement in 2004. Read more on wiki here

Claude Gordon

Claude Gordon was a trumpet player, band director, educator, lecturer, and author. He was born on April 15, 1916 in Helena, Montana. Read more on wiki here

Bud Brisbois

(April 11, 1937 – June 1978) was a jazz and studio trumpet player. He played all styles, including big band lead, jazz soloing, pop, rock, country, Motown, and classical, but it was his high-note playing that set him apart. At his peak he was one of the most accurate and consistent of all high-note trumpeters, and his range has never been equaled. Bud is one of the most famous high note trumept players of all time.  Read more on wiki here

Chet Baker

(December 23, 1929 – May 13, 1988) was an American jazz trumpeter and vocalist. Read more on wiki here

Maurice Andrè

( 21 May 1933 in Alès, France, and died 25 February 2012 in Bayonne) was a French trumpeter, active in the classical musicfield.

He was professor of trumpet at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris where he introduced the teaching of the piccolo trumpet including the Baroque repertoire on trumpet. André inspired many innovations on his instrument and he contributed to the popularization of the trumpet. Maurice is truly one of the most famous trumpet players of all time. Read more on wiki here

Miles Davis

May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music. Davis adopted a variety of musical directions in a five-decade career that kept him at the forefront of many major stylistic developments in jazz. Read more on wiki here

Cat Anderson

September 12, 1916 – April 29, 1981) was an American jazz trumpeter known for his long period as a member of Duke Ellington’s orchestra and for his wide range (more than five octaves), especially his playing in the higher registers. Read more on wiki here

Bill Chase

October 20, 1934 – August 9, 1974) was an American trumpet player and leader of the jazz-rock fusion band Chase. Read more on wiki here

Rafael Mèndez

(March 26, 1906 – September 15, 1981) was a Mexican trumpet virtuoso. He was known for practicing well over 8 hours every day. Read more on wiki here

Timofei Dokschitzer

(13 December 1921,— 16 March 2005, Vilnius) was a Soviet Russian trumpeter, Professor of Gnesins Musical College. He was the solo-trumpeter of Bolshoi Theater. Read more on wiki here

Famous Trumpet Players Today
Final Words

There you have it, a list with the most famous trumpet players today and of all times.

Now, again, I want to remind you that the list of famous trumpet players is just that, it’s NOT a competition or ranking list of the best trumpet players in the world. That said, high virtuosity and fame, do often go hand in hand so, no doubt, many of these are monster players and thus really are the top trumpet players in the world, but not always…

…so keep that in mind.

Thanks for reading and keep practicing!

-Robert Slotte-

7 thoughts on “Most Famous Trumpet Players Today And Of All Time – A LIST”

  1. Raphael Mendez was indeed the Best all around trumpeter ever! His technique is simply unbeatable. As a trumpeter & band leader from Las Vegas (semiretired) I love them all, but Mendez is definitely no 1! Rusty Davis

  2. Al Hirt? Not only a virtuoso but very famous given that he played the halftime show at Super Bowl I, and appeared on many television shows from the 50’s into the 80’s.


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