Jazz Trumpeter and Entrepreneur Shares the Jazz Language

International Musician, September 2010 | Go to article overview

Jazz Trumpeter and Entrepreneur Shares the Jazz Language


Stan Getz once said that jazz is a language: "You learn the alphabet, which are the scales. You learn sentences, which are the chords. And then you talk extemporaneously with the horn." Philip Tauber of Local 325 (San Diego, CA) is a talented trumpet player dedicated to understanding the language of jazz. His most recent accomplishment is the publication of a massive two-volume improvisational textbook, Solo Fluency: The Language of Modern Jazz Improvisation for Trumpet.

In publishing Solo Fluency, Tauber, 64, aims to keep the rich legacy of jazz alive. "Jazz [language] is unappreciated by a listening audience, yet studied very heavily by colleges throughout the world. The path to jazz mastery is very difficult, and it takes a long and arduous track," he explains. "What I've done is codify the language of jazz and make it apparent for non-keyboard players." Many well-known jazz artists have endorsed the book, including Jon Faddis, Local 802 (New York City) members Wynton Marsalis and James Moody, as well as Arturo Sandoval of Local 47 ( Los Angeles). It is considered by many to be the "Arban book" of jazz.

Writing Solo Fluency was one more step in Tauber's lifelong journey of jazz immersion. Steeped in music from an early age, he first picked up trumpet as a protégé of the late Ziggy Elman, once a member of Local 47 and a legendary member of Benny Goodman's biting brass triumvirate. Tauber left Ziggy's guidance at 13 to widen his musical knowledge with the study of more classical styles with Jack Coleman, Lester Remsen, and John Clyman, all former Local 47 members.

Tauber says that for much of his education he is indebted to the mentorship and fraternity of AFM musicians. "You don't grow in music without mentorship," he states. "The AFM members in Los Angeles were tremendous in my youth, and spending time in rehearsals, practice rooms, and hearing stories of the old big bands were some of the best times."

After high school, Tauber led an exciting bohemian lifestyle, touring the country and recording with many internationally known artists and groups. He eventually earned a degree in secondary music education at California State University, Northridge. He even ventured into entrepreneurial business with his wife Gayle, pioneering several successful companies, including founding the food company Kashi in 1983.

It wasn't until after Tauber sold Kashi to Kellogg Company that the idea for Solo Fluency was conceived, following an enlightening gig. "I volunteered to go to San Diego State University to help with their big band as a retired player in 2002. …

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