Musicians use the trumpet in a variety of different types of music, from high-energy swing to smooth jazz. A song can be considered trumpet music if the brass instrument is prominent in the tune. Trumpet music as a genre, however, is more subjective. Styles that use the trumpet to coin their sound are thought of as trumpet music.
The trumpet is a necessary brass instrument in the horn section of a band. The trumpeter commonly fronts the band and is sometimes known as the band leader in certain outfits. Some of the main genres that widely utilize trumpet are jazz, big band, and ska.
Jazz is one of the earliest forms of music featuring trumpets, with roots in the early 1920s. It began in African-American communities in the United States of America and stems from both African and European musical influences. Subgenres include New Orleans-style jazz, swing, and Latin fusion. Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie were famous trumpeters and musical geniuses that rallied trumpet music in their respective scenes.
Big band is a form of music known for its swinging rhythms, high energy, vintage sound, and brass horn sections. Swing music is a subgenre of big band trumpet music that features one or multiple trumpets. It was popular in 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and was performed in ballrooms where patrons could dance in big, open spaces. Swing bands often have eight or more members, including a drummer, bassist, guitarist, and any number of horn players, including one or more trumpets.
Swing music made a huge revival in the 1990s with bands like the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. All of these bands utilized the trumpet to trademark their sounds. The trumpet plays the highest register of the brass family and can be the most prominent sound in the horn section. Frank Sinatra was an early innovator of swing music who was backed by a horn section featuring trumpet players.
Reggae and ska are other mainstays in trumpet music. Reggae is a slower groove and sometimes features trumpet playing. Ska is a genre in a similar vein as reggae but nearly always features trumpets and horn sections. Both genres are very danceable, but ska is much more fast-paced and features the trumpet front and center, leading the horn line. Ska bands that became popular with great trumpeters include Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Mad Caddies.