Dallas resident Jeff Taylor is an accomplished trumpeter and recipient of numerous awards who has performed before four presidents.
Jeff has also played with some of the most popular jazz musicians, including the legendary Maynard Ferguson. For 10 years, he was First Trumpet for the Dallas Cowboys and had the unique pleasure of playing in the infamous Snow Bowl. Jeff’s Tin Man Band plays local and global venues for corporate events, weddings and elite clientele. His newest endeavor is an 18-piece orchestra called the Jeff Taylor Jazz Orchestra. He’s also recording his seventh CD this summer.
How did the Tin Man Band name come about?
From The Wizard of Oz, of course. I saw that movie a hundred times or more as a kid. Also, I’m from Kansas and play a metal instrument. I also wanted to express myself in a different fashion. I love all kinds of music and I’m always trying to evolve with my audience as a player. We do the greatest hits from the ‘70s through today.
When did you learn to play trumpet?
Actually, I started on a saxophone in the fifth grade, and I was very bad at it. My best friend played trumpet, and I thought that would be easier because it only has three buttons. So, I switched. I also play piano and guitar.
Who has influenced you the most in your life’s passion?
I would have to say my mother, Rosalie Taylor. I am the third son, four and five years apart from my older brothers. While they were at school, I was home with my mom. She would play the piano, and she would sing to me while I sat next to her. Her passion for music runs deep. I learned to swim in that passion with her. She always told me to go after my dreams.
When you were young, what did your parents think about your successes?
My parents came to a seventh-grade band concert. This is when I was featured with a Dixieland solo. My father worked and was not always able to attend. This time he was there, and when I finished he was so surprised and proud—he is still my biggest fan. My parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams and never spoke about finding a “real job.” It may sound egotistical, but I always thought I would be a professional trumpet player.
How many CDs have you released? What is the more popular one?
I have six CDs, and four of them were Grammy submissions. The latest, ‘Moon Beams,’ is doing very well, however I would say the fans’ favorite is my first CD—’Stella.’ A jazz radio station in Cleveland got hold of it and played five tracks in a regular rotation, so I have a nice fan base there.
What’s the most unusual gig you’ve ever played?
I played First Trumpet for the Dallas Cowboys for 10 years, and played during the 1993 Snow Bowl between the Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. It was extremely cold—my fingers were frozen and would barely move. My lips were frozen, and the pre-game pyrotechnics smoke was annoying as it blew across the field. Even though the sound of ice pinged off our trumpets, we nailed The Star Spangled Banner!
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am a cancer survivor. In November 2000, I was diagnosed with lymphoma of the stomach. I’ve been in remission since 2005.
What do you and your wife like to do when you have some free time?
We love to travel—glamping is the only way I can get Susan to camp. We also enjoy boating and fishing. We also both like to restore old classic cars.
What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
I share my soul through my trumpet to anybody who will listen. I believe all musicians have something to say through their music. I just hope people hear what I am trying to say.
What would you say to someone who is a gifted instrumentalist, and wants to succeed like you have?
Set goals! Put your blinders on and dispose of all negative people that may hinder your dreams. Only you can control your destiny. When I was 15, I saw Maynard Ferguson live in Lawrence, Kansas. That concert changed my life. I set my goal to play trumpet with him, and a decade later, I achieved my goal. Go get what you want, but be prepared to work for it.
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas