Famous Trumpet Player Jon Faddis is a complete and complex musician, conductor, composer and educator. As a trumpet player, Mr. Faddis possesses full command of the trumpet consistently demonstrating an extraordinary and unparalleled range. Jon easily evokes the trumpet voices of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Roy Eldridge, and of course, his mentor and close friend Dizzy Gillespie, all the while remaining true to his own sound. Inspired by an appearance of Louis Armstrong on the Ed Sullivan Show, Mr. Faddis began playing the trumpet in 1961, at age eight. Three years later, with the help of his trumpet teacher, Bill Catalano, Mr. Faddis tackled the music of Dizzy Gillespie. At the age of fifteen, Mr. Faddis impressed Dizzy Gillespie at the Monterey Jazz Festival, earning an invitation to sit in with Gillespie at the famed Jazz Workshop in San Francisco; it was the beginning of a profound and lifelong friendship.
Two years later, after graduating from high school in Oakland, California, Mr. Faddis moved to New York, first joining Lionel Hampton's band as a featured soloist, and then the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band at the Village Vanguard. At eighteen, he made a debut at New York's Philharmonic Hall with Charles Mingus. Such auspicious beginnings heralded great things to come. Mr Faddis has conducted or performed with The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, The Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra, the Carnegie Hall Centennial Big Band, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Fiftieth Anniversary Dizzy Gillespie Tribute Band, the Newport Jazz Festival Fortieth-Anniversary Tour, and the Tribute to King Oliver Concert for the 1996 Olympics; the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Gil Evans Big Band and the Mingus Big Band. He has toured multiple times for the U.S. State Department and played for Presidents at the White House and royalty abroad. Mr. Faddis also conducts the Jazz Millennium Big Band at the SUNY-Purchase Conservatory, where he is a distinguished professor and artist-in-residence, and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars at the Blue Note in New York and other venues nationally and internationally.
Jon Faddis' distinctive trumpet work is featured on numerous soundtracks, including The Wiz, The Cosby Show, A Winter in Lisbon and Clint Eastwood films The Gauntlet and Bird, and on hundreds of recordings, including those of Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones and Tina Turner. In addition to teaching at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory, Mr. Faddis frequently conducts clinics and master classes around the world. Mr. Faddis
Jon Faddis is a performing artist/clinican for Schilke Trumpets, manufactured in Melrose Park, Illinois. Faddis performs on a Schilke S-42L Professional Model trumpet in gold-plate with slight modifications of his own design; prior to that he played a gold-plated Schilke B6L Professional Trumpet with a beryllium bell. His mouthpieces are custom-made by Scott Laskey, of Lombard, Illinois.
I have used a medium bore Schilke Trumpet since 1971 or so. Since then, I have played mouthpieces made for me by Bert Herrick, Bob Reeves, Bob Giardinelli, Jeff Parke, Greg Black, Schilke, Karl Hammond and Scott Laskey, whose mouthpieces I currently play. Both the mouthpieces and trumpets are played because this particular equipment makes it easier for me to get the sound that I want and to play the music that I hear inside of my head.
I think that a trumpet player using the proper equipment for playing in the upper register and using said equipment properly will have the right sound for the job, better endurance, more gigs (personality excepted) and a longer career. But playing in the upper register is not the end all be all of trumpet playing. Making music is. There are way too many high note trumpet players that don't play in tune, they have a terrible sense of time, they don't swing and they can't play a ballad. As Trummy Young sang with Jimmy Lunceford's Orchestra, "It Ain't What You Do ... It's How You Do It."
Hopefully, the player realizes that everyone is different and that what works for one person may not work for another player. Some players make a career out of experimenting with mouthpieces and horns, to no avail. Hopefully, with the proper guidance of a teacher or mentor, a player can find the equipment that works best for him or her, with that teacher or mentor on the other side of the horn so that they can give proper feedback to the player. But to me, it comes down to being able to play what one is hearing.
A great question! I am assuming that when you say playing in the upper register that you mean being able to play musically in the upper register. The mind tells the body what to do, although this is not always possible. That's why I advocate praying and/or meditating to help the mind to focus and to see things clearly so that one is able to discipline oneself to reach one's goals. Single-mindedness of purpose is the way to achieve ones goal. Seriously, if the mental focus and concentration is not there, I don't think that it (playing in the upper register) will happen..
Upper register playing can be learned if one is willing to work at it for years. Of course, some players have an easier time of it than others. Many people call me a natural player, but don't realize all of the hours and hours of practice that I put in, starting when I was ten years old! And I had already been playing for three years. One practices exercises until one doesn't have to think about how to do those exercises anymore and can play/perform them "naturally." One must be patient ... very, very patient.
Breath control is important but should not be taken out of context. For example, one can really do some damage to oneself by over-breathing, being tense and having poor posture. One needs to be relaxed, with good posture and then work on the upper register. My breathing philosophy is (1) to make sure that the mind is focused on what it is going to do. (2) that the body is relaxed without tension in the shoulder and neck areas. (3) take a big breath either through the nose, the mouth or both together. Dizzy used to say that breathing begins in one's rectum (asshole) and that one should clench one's butt cheeks together before playing. Bill Chase told me that he liked to think that he was going to play a fourth higher than he needed to, thereby making it easier to play what was needed. Tai Chi masters advocate breathing through the soles of the feet and gathering energy. Maynard Ferguson, Bobby Shew and others advocate using a yoga breath. I think that no matter which method is used, breathing is something that one must practice, especially for the upper register. But above all, do no harm.
I practice the first page of Herbert L. Clarke's Technical Studies up to Double C, but softly ... with no crescendo. I practice my own variations on Carmine Caruso's "six notes." If I have time, I practice Arban's page 125, 126 and 127 up to Double C for accuracy. Most of the upper register practice that I do now is done pianissimo. Still trying to make playing the trumpet as easy as possible.
Please provide any additional comments you feel would be helpful in advancing the knowledge of upper register playing?
I now believe that playing trumpet in the upper register is much, much easier than people think, but only if one is not hurting oneself with bad habits, over-analysis and especially trying to FORCE the notes out. Take it easy and be patient. If one wants to play in the upper register of the trumpet, listen to great music that is played in the upper register: flute sonatas, Paganini Caprices, Bach Sonatas and Partitas. It's funny that when we think of that music, we don't think of the "upper register." We're just hearing MUSIC. And that is what we want to do, isn't it? As a matter of fact, listen to all kinds of great music, because you can't play it if you are not hearing it!