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Steve Jankowski Trumpet Player of New Jersey

Steve Jankowski Trumpet

Steve Jankowski Trumpet Player

Trumpet Player Steve Jankowski of New Jersey grew up at the Jersey Shore in a beach town called Belmar, about an hour outside of New York City. In third grade, Steve Jankowski's Uncle asked his Mom if she wanted a trumpet he had bought for Steve's cousin. Steve's cousin didn't want to play the trumpet. There was a college aged trumpet player/teacher across the street who taught beginners and Steve looked up to him, so he said yes. That teachers name was Kevin Sulovski. He played in a band with Clarence Clemons that later became Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Kevin left the band (before it got famous) for Flight school and is now a pilot.

Steve's second teacher, Les Hollander, was very influential. Steve met Les when he got to High School. Steve had stopped playing trumpet in the 8th grade. Steve lost interest and spent all of his time at the beach or playing basketball. (Says Steve, "Being 6'3", I thought I could have a career in Basketball ! ha !") When Steve got to High School, he hadn't been playing trumpet for about a year. Somehow, the High School band director, Les Hollander, knew Steve played trumpet and was recruiting for the band. He told Steve he could get credit for playing in the band and if he didn't enjoy it he could opt out the next semester. As soon as Steve got in the band and there were auditions for seating, Steve's competitive nature kicked in, and he knew that he could be better than most of the other trumpet players there. Les saw that and nurtured it by having Steve audition for All County Band, then the region band, then All State Band. By his Sophomore year, Steve was practicing 3 - 4 hours a day on top of playing in two bands during school (Jazz and Wind ensemble). In his Sophomore year, Steve made the region Jazz band and in his Junior and Senior year he made the All State Jazz band. Steve still plays with some of those guys he met back then. Tom Timko is Steve's trumpet section mate in Blood Sweat and Tears, and they met in Region band in 1976. They also started a bar band that got pretty popular at the shore for 2 years before they went to college.

At first, Steve's parents didn't want him to just go into music. They thought Steve should have something to "fall back on" in case music didn't work out. Steve always had a thing for electronics and music and loved records and recording, so he decided to go to the University of Miami (Florida) and major in Recording Engineering. The University of Miami had just started the program a few years back and it was a credited major that combined an Engineering degree with a Music degree, a double major of sorts. It was a great school for music and had great teachers so Steve was into it. There, Steve studied with Gil Johnson at first. At some point during his first semester, Steve went to a few senior recitals of fellow Music Engineering majors. Steve didn't feel that their playing abilities were up to the standards that he wanted for himself when he would be a senior. Steve realized that the dual major took too much time away from practicing. Steve decided that he wanted to opt out of that program and just become a Studio Music and Jazz major at Miami. It was then that Steve met a great human being and teacher in Bill Clarke.

Bill used to play for the NBC Orchestra in New York City in its heyday. His trumpet section mate was a young Doc Severinson. Bill had a great knowledge of what it takes to be a working musician in New York City, and taught Steve the importance of being able to cover any style of music on the trumpet. After a year and a half studying with Bill, Steve realized that he needed a certain type of competition that he wasn't getting in Miami. Bill encouraged Steve to audition at Manhattan School of Music and move to New York City. Bill's feeling was that Steve didn't have command of the instrument yet and Steve really needed to learn how to play the trumpet before studying jazz. In hindsight, Bill was right and Steve is glad he listened to him.

Steve auditioned for Manhattan School of Music Trumpet Professor William Vacchiano and was accepted. Once at Manhattan, there were so many excellent trumpet players that Steve's competitive nature kicked in again and he wanted to be as good as everyone there. There were some great trumpet players there and a couple of the graduate students took Steve under their wings and showed him the ropes around town and in the school. Steve started working outside of the school and got a taste of the freelance scene in New York City and knew he was hooked for life. Steve's teacher at Manhattan School of Music was Allan Dean. Mr Dean also imparted the importance of being able to play all styles of music to Steve. Allan related to Steve how he came to New York to be a jazz player and ended up being one of the top call legit session players in town. Allan also was a member of the New York Brass Quintet.

Steve Jankowski found that being in Manhattan and going to school was great for him. Says Steve, "I was working outside of school and earning enough money for rent and bills and meals while still in school. It was a wide variety of jobs that I got called for, thanks to Bill Clarke encouraging me to be proficient in all styles of music back in my Miami days. I worked with Ed Palermo's Big Band at Seventh Avenue South in the Village (Club owned by the Brecker Brothers). In the early days, I also played in a Brass Quintet that played on the street on 5th Avenue at lunchtime in between classes. Great playing for the chops. Once school ended I was gigging full time. Some of those earlier gigs were with Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus (also great for the chops), Bobby Rosengard's Big Band (Where I sat next to the great Jimmy Maxwell), Bob January Big Band, and Xavier Cugat Big Band. During these days I was still playing big equipment because I was still playing a lot of legit gigs too. I was trumpet player in residence at Immanuel Lutheran Church and for a while at St Bartholomew's Cathedral in New York City. I also got to play at the Metroplitan Opera on Opening night with about 10 other trumpet players that Mel Broiles put together to play fanfares he had written specifically for the occasion.

After a few years it seemed like I was getting more and more commercial gigs and I started realizing I couldn't get the results I wanted all night long on the big equipment. (I was playing a 2 &1/2 C mouthpiece at the time). In 1986, my section mate in the Cugat band was Jeff Parke. Jeff also worked on mouthpieces and sold a few different brands. He brought in a Warburton 6M for me to try one night and it worked for me. The high spot of the rim seemed to be in the same place as the 2 1/2 C, yet with a tight backbore (#3), I was able to achieve the results I wanted with less effort and last a lot longer. That became my main mouthpiece from then on.

As time went on, I seemed to get more and more calls for horn section work. It made sense as that is what I grew up listening to. People realized that I phrased correctly for those types of gigs. I started getting calls for The Temptations, Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Little Anthony whenever they were in town. In 1990, one of my friends from Manhattan School of Music was touring with Blood Sweat and Tears. He had gotten a call to put together a horn section for an up and coming comedian that wanted to tour with a band. He couldn't do the gig and gave my name to Andrew Dice Clay. I called my buddy from my high school days (Tom Timko) to play sax and we went on the road with Dice on his history making arena tour. (He was the first comedian to sell out arenas throughout the U.S.). This gave me my first taste of life on the road and playing to large crowds in big venues. The last days of the gig helped teach me to stay grounded and be humble. The last night of the Dice tour was in a packed Los Angeles Forum. Immediately after the gig I had to fly home on the red eye so I could make my gig the next day in Bloomingdales in New York City in a Santa suit as a member of the Santa Brass Band ! ha ! ..... one night playing to a sold out Forum in Los Angeles and the next day in a Santa suit in Bloomingdales !!! That always keeps me grounded knowing it isn't always going to be the best gigs.

That gig got me my first endorsement and also my Screen Actors Guild card since we were featured in Dice's Movie called "Dice Rules". Part of my endorsement obligation was to perform at the NAMM Shows in Anaheim, California every January. One year after a performance, I looked into the crowd and saw a smiling Lee Loughnane. I recognized him right away and went right over and talked to him. We immediately hit it off. At this time, my Dice section mate, Tom Timko moved to Los Angeles to play with Tower of Power. He also met and worked with Lee in Los Angeles. This all leads up to a point in 1992 when Lee was on the east coast and needed a sub to cover some gigs with Chicago due to a family emergency. Lee called Tom to ask who he should call and Tom reminded Lee of our meeting at NAMM. Long story short, I got the call and had 48 hours to memorize the show and meet the band Chicago in Long Island for a gig at Jones Beach.

A funny story ... I arrived early at the hotel the band was staying at and found myself on the tour bus first, before the band got there. The first one out to the bus was Jimmy Pankow, Chicago's famous trombone player. Ge walked onto the bus, seemingly ignoring me, and just about when it seemed like he was going to pass me, he leaned into me with a big grin on his face and yelled, "Are you nervous yet", then laughed. That broke the ice and I knew I was going to have a good time. The gig went great and I stayed on the road with them for most of the summer of their 25th Anniversary Tour.

A year or two later, a friend from my Miami days needed a sub for K.C. and The Sunshine Band and that started my 2 year run with that band. We travelled all over the world on that tour and I knew I was hooked on the road in Rock/Pop bands. When that tour was over I came back to the New York area and bought a home in New Jersey back near the shore where I grew up. I started working some in Philadelphia with a sax player named Jay Davidson. He endorsed the same horn company I was now endorsing and brought me down to Philly for sessions. We got to play on a variety of material for artists including Luther Vandross, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Amy Grant, Monty Alexander, Sly and Robbie, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and more. We were also the house horn section for Leon Huff of Gamble and Huff fame, and Joe and Phil Nicolo, a two brother producer team, better known as the "Butcher Brothers". While in these studios with great engineers, I found myself staying long after my playing part of the session was over and watching and learning from all these great producers and engineers. A few of the bands I was working in wanted to record CD's, including my friend Tom Timko, who had since moved back to the New York area. I decided to buy some digital equipment and further my love of recording and producing. That was my first foray into recording. I built a small studio in my basement with one iso room and started engineering and producing cd's. I produced and engineered about 25 cd's in that studio.

In 1996 the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers under the new management of Pat Croce, decided they wanted to put together a band in the style of Paul Shaffer's Late Night Band and Jay and I got hired for that. That was a great gig for me since one of my first loves was basketball. I still can't believe we got paid to play at these games and sit floor level and watch all the home games for 8 years. What a great gig. We also got to eat in the press room and sit and talk to all the visiting greats that were retired from playing and currently announcing the games. Once the NBA gig ended, I found myself re-connecting with my New York friends and after a few phone calls started working for traveling artists that would come to the New York/New Jersey area and hire horn sections for local gigs. Some of these artists included: Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin, Shakira, Martha Reeves, the Temptations, etc. A few short tours in these years included Don Henley's "Inside Job" tour, a tour with the lifetime Grammy award winning Funk Brothers (the famed rhythm section on all the Motown hits) and 2 more summer tours with the band Chicago when Lee needed a sub. I also started getting calls to sub with other bands including Nile Rodgers and Chic, and Sam Moore's band (of Sam and Dave fame).

By this time, my lifelong friend Tom Timko had become Musical Director of Blood Sweat and Tears. They needed a trumpet player and I got the call. I have been playing with Blood Sweat and Tears for the last 3 years. Tom had to leave the band temporarily last year and I was made Musical Director. For me, it's a great gig. The band is full of amazing players playing great music to appreciative crowds all over the world In the meantime, I built a new home with a new studio and when not on the road I produce and engineer cd's for artists including Rob Paparozzi, Ed Palermo, Children's artist Yosi, and Dave Ginsberg, among others. The studio also brings a lot of horn section work my way, since I can play and engineer the session at the same time.

Trumpet Teachers and Tips:

Steve Jankowski on his trumpet teachers, methods etc. "In High School, Les Hollander impressed upon me the importance of constant practicing. We worked out of Arbans and Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies, and later on Charlier and all the important trumpet concertos (Hayden, Hummel, etc)

Bill Clarke in Miami taught me the importance of being an all around player. We worked out of technique books like the Clarke studies and etude books like the Charlier etude book.

Alan Dean taught me the importance of being ready for whatever type of gig you get called for. He said to always be ready and in the best playing shape you can be, and fortunately I listened and remembered that when I got that call from Chicago and only had 2 days to be ready. If my chops weren't in top shape I wouldn't have been able to cut the gig. Allan also told me over the years to "get the horn off your face whenever possible" to let the blood flow. That came back to mind over and over again in the circus years, where you play constantly for the whole 2 hour show, and also again on stage in the last minutes of a Chicago show or a Blood, Sweat & Tears show where you have to hit the highest notes in your set (F#'s and G's). With Allan I worked out of Marcel Bitsch, a couple different books based on Bach well tempered Clavier and cello suites, some odd and multi meter books, and some Atonal studies. (can't remember which ones, but they definitely enabled me to read almost anything)

I think the Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies are invaluable (and any other tech studies based on these like Allen Vizzutti's). Arban is a great book for the beginners early on. Charlier is a great etude book.

I learned the Bill Adam Routine second hand in lessons with Los Angeles Studio heavyweight Charley Davis.This method helped me get my range to where it needed to be. I still do some of the routine every day to stay in shape.

I have taught private trumpet lessons on and off over the years, but only when a student comes to me that really wants to learn and puts out the effort. If they don't put out the effort, I don't want to be bothered. I can be reached via e mail at:

Trumpet Gear:

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Marcinkiewicz and fell in love with his trumpets. (Joe produces some of the most popular mouthpieces also!) I now play and endorse Marcinkiewicz Trumpets and specifically a Rembrandt Model SC4X Trumpet (with Shepherd's crook) made just for me by Joe. It is a ML bore at .459 with large 5" bell. The way this horn feels is exactly what I always thought a trumpet should feel like. It plays warm and sweetly at low volumes, but when pushed it opens up and can be as bright as needed. It takes whatever you give it and never backs up (I think due to the Marcinkiewicz shepherd's crook design)

I play a Yamaha 8315G Professional Model Flugelhorn on the road and a Professional Model Kanstul Flugelhorn in the studio (The Kanstul is bigger and doesn't fit in most road cases that fit in the overhead bin) I am anxious to try Joe Marcinkiewicz Flugelhorn soon. I play a Bach C Trumpet and Yamaha Piccolo Trumpet for legit gigs.

I still play a Warburton 6M for most of my work with a Q backbore. I switched to the Q backbore once on the Marcinkiewicz Trumpet as it seemed to work better with this horn. Prior to that it was a Warburton #3 backbore. For legit playing I will switch to a Warburton 6 MD top with a #7 backbore. On the C trumpet I will use a 6D top with a very large #10 backbore On Piccolo I use the 6M top with a special backbore Terry Warburton gave me for Piccolo.

I'd like to mention a new release from Guitarist Andy Rothstein that I produced and played on called "Wit of the Staircase" ... Jeff Lorber's Grammy nominated "He Had a Hat" with my Blood, Sweat & Tears section mates as well as Tom Timko and the Horndogs self titled cd I produced and play on as being some of my favorite work.

To contact Steve Jankowski ... you can visit Steve's websites at

Steve Jankowski's Discography

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