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Jon Faddis

Professor of Music

Jon Faddis is a Grammy Award–nominated jazz trumpet player, conductor, composer, and educator. Born in Oakland, California, in 1953, he began playing trumpet at age eight, inspired by an appearance of Louis Armstrong on the Ed Sullivan Show. Three years later, his trumpet teacher Bill Catalano, an alumnus of the Stan Kenton band, turned the jazz-struck youngster on to Dizzy Gillespie. By his mid-teens, he had not only met Dizzy, but he had even sat in with his hero’s combo at the famed Jazz Workshop in San Francisco.

Two days before his 18th birthday, Faddis joined Lionel Hampton’s big band as a featured soloist, and in the same year was invited to sit in with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band on one of their regular Monday night sessions at the Village Vanguard. He rapidly became lead trumpeter for the band, recording and touring the world, and also studied at the Manhattan School of Music during this period.

After playing with Charles Mingus in his early 20s, Faddis became a noted studio musician in New York, recording with numerous jazz luminaries, including Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Anthony Braxton, Kenny Burrell, Gil Evans, Les McCann, Brother Jack McDuff, Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson, and Lalo Schifrin, among others. In the mid-1980s, he focused on his solo recording career.

His distinctive trumpet appears on hundreds of records and numerous soundtracks for film and television. His original compositions include the jazz opera Lulu Noire (1997), named a “Top 10” pick by USA Today; other Faddis compositions may be heard on his Grammy-nominated Remembrances (Chesky 1998), Hornucopia (Epic 1991), Into the Faddisphere (Epic 1989), and Teranga (Koch 2006).

In addition to forming his own quartet, Faddis has directed several orchestras, including the Grammy-winning United Nation Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie 70th Birthday Big Band, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble (2004–2010), the Carnegie Hall Centennial Big Band, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band (1992–2002), and the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra of New York (2003–present). Faddis has also served as guest conductor and featured guest with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

Jon Faddis has an enduring commitment to the education of young musicians, and frequently conducts clinics and master classes, devoting personalized attention to teaching the next generation of jazz musicians. The Jon Faddis Award for Musical Excellence is presented each year is presented every year to the most promising jazz trumpet player in the New York area.

“He’s the best ever, including me!”
— Dizzy Gillespie

“…the world’s greatest trumpeter … the greatest trumpeter on the planet for decades … brash soloistic logic and breathtaking technical acuity …”
Time Out New York

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