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Tim Hagans Trumpet Player

Tim Hagans Trumpet

Tim Hagans Trumpet Player
photo courtesy of Rauno Still

Tim Hagans talks about his New CD - "Faces Under the Influence"
on his new Record Label "Waiting Moon Records"

Tim Hagans Quartet performs "First Jazz"

Tim Hagans Jazz Improvisation Masterclass

Tim Hagans

is a jazz trumpet player, arranger and composer, and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards including one for Best Instrumental Composition for "Box of Cannoli" on the recording The Avatar Sessions (Fuzzy Music 2010); and two for Best Contemporary Jazz CD for recordings Animation*Imagination (Blue Note 1999); and Re-Animation (Blue Note 2000).

Tim Hagans grew up in Dayton, Ohio and began playing the trumpet at the age of nine. Life changed significantly for Tim on a family vacation to New Orleans in 1970 when he heard Ray Maldonado on trumpet with Mongo Santamaria. Ray was the first jazz trumpet player that Tim heard live in a small group. Tim listened to Ray Maldonado extensively thereafter. Tim’s early trumpet inspirations included Doc Severinsen, Harry James, Herb Alpert, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw and Thad Jones.

Tim's first trumpet teacher was Kermit Simmons. He played with the Isham Jones band in the late thirties and stayed in the band when Woody Herman took over. The walls of his studio at Hauer Music in Dayton, Ohio were covered with pictures of the early days of the big band era. Simmons talked about chops and breathing, scales and etudes, but the most important lessons were how to interpret a melody and playing swing. Frank LeFevre was Tim's trumpet teacher for the last two years of high school and his lessons were aimed at preparation for college auditions. The Arbans trumpet method, scales, the Hummel and Haydn Concertos. He was a fantastic trumpet player and gave Tim a solid trumpet base for the future.

During the 70's, the big band era was strong and thriving. Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson were all on the road and played in Ohio frequently. The trumpet players in these bands provided a lot of inspiration for Tim. Tim was also listening to a lot of popular music during this period and waiting on the trumpet to appear when Blood, Sweat and Tears with Randy Brecker (and later Lou Soloff); and Sly and the Family Stone with Cynthia Robinson, and Hugh Masekela came along. Tim was ecstatic. Lou's solos on Spinning Wheel and Lucretia's Reprise had a huge impact on Tim and still induce goose bumps when he hears them today.

When Tim went to Bowling Green State University in 1972, he was, for the first time, surrounded by other aspiring jazz musicians including Rich Perry, Tom Kirkpatrick, Bob Breithaupt, Jack Stuckey, Tom Warrington, and Bob Doll. They were all wading through music education classes and dreaming about wild music. Through their combined record collections, they were exposed to the history of jazz. When Tim heard "The Hub of Hubbard," Freddie's 1969 record on MPS, he realized that "Freddie was supreme!" Dave Melle ran the college big band and Lou Marini Sr. was also involved. Although, there were no formal jazz studies, Melle and Marini provided guidance and inspiration. Tim's trumpet teacher was Edwin Betts and they delved into the world of trumpet literature, orchestral excerpts and transposition. As with Kermit Simmons, Ed always talked about bringing out the music in every phrase.

After Tim heard Freddie Hubbard for the first time in person at Gilley's in Dayton in April of 1974, he knew that the rest of his life would be spent trying to play up to that level.

During the summer of 1973, Tim attended a Stan Kenton Summer Camp. Tim met Stan's trumpet players as well as another trumpet player from Ohio, lead player John Harner. John joined the band a few months later and called Tim to join the band in June of 1974. Tim's professional career was launched. Stan's band had always been Tim's favorite big band. A powerful sound that pushed the extremes ... so soft the audience leaned forward to make sure the band was playing and so loud, in the next moment, that their ribs would vibrate. Tim states that he was not the best jazz player Stan could have hired but he liked the fact that Tim tried different things and experimented every night. They played a lot of modal music. Soloing on minor chords for extended periods lead Tim to "chromaticism" and establishing emotional relationships with every note ... vertically, horizontally ... here were no wrong notes. It was a great experience and a great environment in which to develop.

Stan's bus was a "rolling listening lab." Tim would listen exclusively to Clifford Brown until he was saturated, switch to Lee Morgan for a month and then on to Booker Little followed by Thad Jones and on and on. Tim was also listening to the other instrumentalists as well especially the saxophone players and especially John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. Playing loud and in the middle register with Stan Kenton caused serious embouchure problems. Tim loved playing with Stan Kenton regardless. Tim had been advised upon leaving the band that his chops would probably give him problems when asked to play other types of music. Tim found that this was more than true.

Shortly, Tim moved to Malmo, Sweden and began playing all sorts of music from be-bop to totally free music while rebuilding his chops by studying with Leif Bengtsson, a wonderful trumpet teacher and performer. Tim worked with the Swedish Radio Jazz Group, Orjan Falhstrom and the jazz/funk group White Orange. Tim also played in Denmark with the Danish Radio Band with Thad Jones and later the Thad Jones Eclipse. Tim's first recorded composition, "I Hope This Time Isn't the Last," appears on the recording "Thad Jones Live at Slukefter" (Metronome, 1980). Tim was also a member of the Ernie Wilkins Almost Big Band. To play with Ernie and Thad was an honor and an important learning experience for Tim. Tim also played in assorted small groups with Sahib Shihab, Kenny Drew, Dexter Gordon, Horace Parlan, Ed Thigpen, Nils-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Bent Jeadig, Idrees Suileman, Erling Kroner and the Creme Fraiche Big Band.

Tim returned home to Ohio in 1982 and lived in Cincinnati for a few years. Tim taught at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati with Rick Van Matre and had a great time playing with Al Nori, Steve Schmidt, John Von Ohlen, Lynn Seaton and the Blue Wisp Big Band on a regular basis. In 1984, Tim took a teaching position at the Berklee College of Music. Some of the musicians in Boston that I played with and learned from were Steve Rochinski, George Garzone, Bert Seager, Gordon Brisker, Joe Hunt, Dan Greenspan and Ken Cervenka. I was also able to meet and play with some of my early trumpet heroes from Buddy Rich's band ... Greg Hopkins, Wayne Naus, Jeff Stout and George Zonce.

In 1987, Hagans moved to New York City. He has performed with Maria Schneider, The YellowJackets, Steps, Secret Society, and Gary Peacock. Hagans has worked extensively with producer and saxophonist Bob Belden on a variety of recordings and live performances, including their ongoing Animation/Imagination project. Festivals at which he has performed include the Mount Fuji Festival in Japan, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Berlin Jazz Tage, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Hagans has taught trumpet master classes at universities in the United States and abroad. Tim taught at the University of Cincinnati from 1982 to 1984, and at Berklee College of Music from 1984 to 1987. From 1996 to 2010, Hagans was Artistic Director and Composer-in-Residence for the Norrbotten Big Band located in Lulea, Sweden. The Norrbotten Big Band is a 17 piece jazz orchestra for whom Hagans wrote and arranged original compositions with guest artists including Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine, and Rufus Reid, an enterprise culminating in the Grammy nominated The Avatar Sessions: The Music of Tim Hagans, for which the Norbotten Big Band traveled to New York. His compositions are featured on numerous recordings with the Norrbotten Big Band, including Future North (Doubletime Records, 1998), Future Miles (Act Records, 2002), and Worth the Wait (Fuzzy Music, 2007). Hagans has been commissioned by several other European jazz orchestras, including the NDR Big Band in Hamburg, UMO in Helsinki, and he was Composer-in-Residence at the Jazz Baltica Festival in 2000. In 2008, Hagans was awarded the ASCAP/IAJE Established Composer Award, and in 2009 he was commissioned by the Barents Composers Orchestra to write a piece for strings, woodwinds, and percussion: Daytonality, a piece based on improvisational melodic language. Hagans is the subject of the feature documentary Boogaloo Road, directed by Runar Enberg and Marianne Soderberg. He is a featured soloist on Howard Shore's soundtrack for the feature film The Score starring Marlon Brando, Edward Norton, and Robert De Niro.

Tim Hagans currently performs, tours, and records with the Tim Hagans Quartet: Tim Hagans, trumpet; Viv Juris, guitar; Rufus Reid, bass, and Jukkis Uotila, drums. The quartet is featured on his recording "The Moon Is Waiting."

Following his interest in exploring theatrical venues for innovative jazz, Hagans is Composer-in-Residence with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble, a dance company located in Houston, Texas and in New York City.

Bobby Shew's Influence

- "The reason that I can play what I play today is because of Bobby Shew. He has eliminated the frustration and hopeless feeling that comes from not being able to technically execute what the creative forces dictate. Through lessons, conversations and workshops with Bobby, I better understand the concept of breathing, how the muscle groups function together and how to achieve the optimum relationship between aperture, buzz and breath. He can be compared to a golf swing coach who observes flaws and tendencies and then makes corrective suggestions. When, after a gig, my chops are not swollen and bruised and I feel that I played what I heard, it's because of my lessons with Bobby. And when the condition of my chops is the opposite, it's because I forgot everything that he said! Bobby is also an incredible player and one of those few guys that I say "wow....I wish I could play like that!"

Tim Hagans Trumpet

Tim Hagans Trumpet Gear:

Tim is currently playing a New York Bach ML Model 43 that he received from Al Nori about thirty years ago. Al was a great trumpet player from Middletown, Ohio who played with the Blue Wisp Big Band from its inception until his death in 2009. He was a great friend to Tim and one of his favorite muscians. Tim is playing on a Heim 2 trumpet mouthpiece.

Tim Hagans Trumpet Advice:

"For students sitting in practice rooms wondering what the point is, for music teachers discouraged that their message may not be valued,
for performers who are tired of the hustle and the travel ... please remember ... any thing as feared and uncontrollable as art must be an incredibly
important force and a vital ingredient for a healthy society and cool place to live." - Tim Hagans

Tim Hagans with Michele Brangwen

Tim Hagans with Michele Brangwen

Contact Tim Hagans through his website at

Tim Hagans Discography At CD Universe

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