Call for Solo Trumpet (2003)
By James Stephenson

Biographical Info

Jim has composed a considerable amount of fantastic material for trumpet; sonatas, concerti, etude books, chamber music and unaccompanied solos.  I have heard that he has even composed music that involves instruments other than the trumpet.  I know … hard to believe, but you can find a complete listing of his compositions and arrangements here.  His website, by the way, often will have some biographical information about the work, sound clips as well as the link to purchase the music.  (The site has also recently undergone a facelift.  Wow – nice!)

Call for Solo Trumpet was originally written for a lecture demonstration presented by Jim (himself a very accomplished trumpet player) in 2003.  In his words; “The piece “calls” upon many different aspects commonly associated with the trumpet: fanfares, rapid-tonguing and jazzy riffs.”

Suggested Equipment

Though originally conceived for C trumpet, and premiered (by Jim Stephenson) as such, it would easily work well for Bb also.

I used an Eclipse Bb and Charlie Davis harmon mute for this clip.  I feel much more comfortable in the jazz or commercial idiom on Bb trumpet.  While this is not a jazz piece there are elements of swing and what I feel as African-6/8 in sections.

Practice/Performance Tips

The whole work hovers around the tonal center of C minor.  (C Phrygian to be precise.)  Establishing the scale that this work is derived from will help with pitch and general centering.  (Note that there are not supposed to be any Ab’s unlike my recording in m.9.  Sorry, Jim.  My bad.)

the Call

There is a swung section starting in m.17 that poses a bit of a breathing problem.  The obvious solution is to breath before one of the three glisses but I don’t really like breaking up those glisses if I can help it.  My solution is to take a couple of quick breaths in the transition section when you are moving away from swing going back to straight eighths.  (measures 23-24)

Measure 32 begins a triplet section that to my ear sounds like Afro 6/8.  Subito alternating from open to harmon is a great effect but tricky.  My suggestion is to not let the mute get too far away from your bell during the open measures.  This will affect your open sound a little but it will save on dents in your bell or on your chops!  Accentuating the accents will bring out the sense of the African poly-rhythm.

The ending section that starts at m.39 offers a great opportunity to work on a very valuable tonguing skill; that is to seamlessly go from single- to double-tongue.  As an exercise pick a different beat each time to switch from single to double so it becomes automatic and musical.

This is a very fun, short piece that I could see opening a program or used as an encore.  Thanks, Jim.


Suggested Recordings

As of this posting I do not know of a commercial recording of the Call.  However there is a very nice clip of the principal trumpet of Hong Kong Phil playing it on Jim’s site here.