Top 13 Famous Trumpet players: Ultimate Guide to the Best of the Best

If you’re looking for the softest, most intimate, and most seductive melodies, then the trumpet is a musical instrument for you. Also, if you’re after energetic themes that evoke power and inspiration, you’ve come to the right address. In this article, we’ll talk about 13 famous trumpeters who defined the sound of the trumpet forever. 

List of world-famous trumpeters

Mordents curated the list of the most famous trumpet players in the world (please don’t be mad if your favorite isn’t on the list – it was very hard for us to pick the best ones). Enjoy and we are now working on the best female trumpeters list. Stay tuned!

Miles Davis

Miles Davis is remembered as one of the greatest trumpet players in history, as well as one of the most notable musicians in general.

During his half-century career, Davis has made an incredible impact on different forms of jazz, such as bebop, avant-garde jazz, hard pop, and jazz in fusion with rock.

Harmon mute, a piece of metal that gave his trumpet a softer, more intimate sound, was the characteristic of Davis’ music. It went perfectly well with his short-not, lyrical music. 

Davis recorded over 50 studio albums and worked with many musical legends, like Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie,  John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker.

He played with other greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Billy Eckstine, Max Roach, and John Coltrane and recorded more than 50 studio albums.

Harry James

An amazing big band conductor and one of the greatest trumpet masters of all time, Harry started playing the trumpet when he was only ten years old. His father showed him the world of music through the renowned Arban method for brass players. 

Although he was in a dance band with Pollack and Goodman in 1931, he started his own big band eight years later in Philadelphia. Another great star joined – the legendary Frank Sinatra. This orchestra was the first one in which Frank Sinatra sang.

Aside from his exceptional musical legacy, he took part in several movies, and his music was also featured in a few of them, such as Hannah and her sisters by Woody Allen. 

Dizzy Gillespie

One of the brightest stars in jazz history is a charming trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie, without whom jazz itself would not be as rich and sophisticated. Apart from playing the trumpet, he sang and composed as well. 

Some of the works he composed, which later became crucial in the jazz world, were Anthropology, Salt Peanuts, and A Night in Tunisia. He was very fond of Afro-Cuban music and dived into different musical forms like calypso, bossa nova, and Afro-Cuban jazz. This road led him to collaborations with Chano Pozo and Stevie Wonder. 

He played with many other jazz legends throughout his prosperous career, including Charles Parker and Coleman Hawkins. 

Maynard Ferguson

Ferguson was one of the most inventive and prolific musicians in jazz history. This trumpet payer recorded over 60 studio albums and collaborated with one of the most prominent musicians of his time, including Dizzy Gillespie. 

Born and raised in Canada, he started displaying his genius at a very young age. As a 13-year-old boy, he started performing as a solo player at concerts. During this time, he already started his own band.

He is also known for creating the music for the movie Rocky, among his other outstanding achievements. 

Arturo Sandoval

Cuban Arturo Sandoval is one of the most renowned trumpet players in history. He played several instruments since the age of 13, before finally sticking to the trumpet. His love for this instrument resulted in forming the Irakere group which consisted of two saxophone and piano legends, Paquito D’Riviera and Chucho Valdés.

Arturo Sandoval is another jazz player who is connected to Dizzy Gillespie. In fact, he thought of him as a spiritual father primarily because of his interest and contributions to Afro-Cuban music, which opened the door for Sandoval’s global success. 

Maurice Andre

Maurice was born in France in 1993 and played one of the key roles in making the trumpet an essential solo instrument in academic music.

The problem was that the trumpet was never the main instrument and was instead always accompanying marching bands. He gave importance to the trumpet while studying at the Paris Conservatory and as a solo trumpeter in ensembles such as the French Radio-Television Philharmonic Orchestra.

He became so skilled that great conductors like von Krajan and Karl Richter requested him to play as a solo trumpeter in their concert. Moreover, he stands out as one of the best trumpet teachers of the last century. 

Louis Armstrong

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong is one of the most prominent figures of jazz. It’s safe to say that his entire life was jazz itself, and it would be unimaginable not to mention this great musician while discussing jazz. His life was not easy, and it was more often than not filled with poverty, racial discrimination, and pain. He was known as a man who helped others without expecting anything in return but was also dependent on the kindness of strangers on more than one occasion. 

As a young man, he spent some time in several reformatories for committing minor crimes until he was accepted to be a part of one of the most influential orchestras in the city in 1918.

After living in Chicago, he decided to move to New York in 1924, which is considered the start of his fame as a trumpeter. He traveled the world playing the trumpet, giving it true recognition in the world of jazz. He is also known for making a vocal style called scatting famous.

Herb Alpert

With 8 Grammies, 14 platinum records, 15 gold records, 28 albums on the Billboard chart, 5 number 1 songs, Herb Alpert is considered as one of the most critically acclaimed and awarded musicians of all time. 

Moreover, he is also remembered for founding the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass band, as well as the record label A&M Records.

His love for the trumpet started early, at the young age of eight, and later on, he played in dance bands. Although he had a very consistent and active career, his fame truly started in 1964 with the Tijuana Brass band. 

Chet Baker

The cool guy, singer, and trumpet player of the west coast, Chet Baker was one of the vital jazz figures in the ‘50s in the USA. 

One of the most excellent musicians of the 20th century, Baker had an ideal voice for jazz. One of his biggest inspirations was Miles Davis, which can be heard in his music.

However, his life was far from easy. He had a drug problem and was in and out of rehab on several occasions. Ultimately, his drug habit was the reason for his death. He died in Amsterdam in 1988 when he tripped and fell from a terrace. He was under the influence of cocaine and heroin.

Clifford Brown

Clifford’s career didn’t last long as his life was cut short by a horrible car accident at the young age of 25. Still, he is more than deserving to appear on this list. He left an incredible mark as a jazz trumpeter in bebop and hardbop and was known as a master of improvisation. He was one of the best when it came to high-level jam sessions. 

Clifford made music with legendary Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Art Blakey, and Benny Golson, who composed “I Remember Clifford,” honoring young Brown.

He was a great inspiration for musicians like Wynton Marsalis, Louis Smith, and Freddie Hubbard. 

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis is one of the most legendary jazz trumpet players and composers in the last 25 years.

Neoclassicism is written all over his works. His style includes jazz, swing, and even modern bebop. He is also known for his impeccable technique. 

Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Freddie Hubbard were some of his idols. He collaborated with Gillespie and Art Blakey, among others. 

Rafael Mendez

Rafael Méndez was one of the greatest virtuosos ever to play the trumpet. Born in Jiquilpan, Mexico, he had a fruitful and renowned solo career between 1950 and 1975, during which time he had up to 125 performances in one year.

His style was a fascinating mix of several different influences: classical music, popular music, jazz, Mexican music, and mariachi. In fact, one of his most famous recordings is of Paganini’s Moto Perpetuo, a virtuoso work in which he plays for over 4 minutes non-stop.

His tone was vibrant, fast, and clean.

James Morrison

Even though James Morrison was multi-talented and played several different instruments, including saxophone and piano, his greatest passion was the trumpet.

He got the first prize in various jazz competitions and composed for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. 

This jazz legend is a founder of James Morrison Academy of Music, a jazz school in Australia that offers a degree in jazz performance. 

If you play trumpet you need to be listening to the best trumpet players in the world. That’s the way you are giving your tone shape and colour. So pick someone, anyone, and dive into the list. Then dig deeper and find your own favourites. Set aside some dedicated listening time, put on your headphones, sit back and enjoy.