THE ROLE OF THE TRUMPET IN TRADITIONAL JAZZ STYLES

The trumpet has always been the “lead” instrument in both New Orleans and Chicago styles of traditional jazz playing.  It is the instrument that carries the melody of most tunes, whether it is a written out arrangement or a tune that everyone knows and is “faking.”  This is largely because the trumpet is a loud and cutting instrument. It allows for the melody to be heard, regardless of what the other “front line” instruments are doing.

Most music in the more traditional or Dixieland idiom has the clarinet playing an “obbligato” part over the trumpet melody, or playing a parallel second part to the trumpet.  The trombone is playing in a “tail-gate” style that in many cases combines part of a bass line and part of a counter melody to the trumpet.

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