Sam Neufeld

Sam2How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?
When I was in first grade, I begged my dad to let me get a trumpet and start lessons. Unfortunately, the couple teachers we called said I was too young and should wait until fifth grade to start in concert band.
I’m not sure what it was that attracted me to the trumpet; I do know that my dad has been a jazz fan since at least when I was a a young child. He played Clifford, Dizzy, Miles, and all the great trumpet players. I’m sure that had a large influence.
Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?
I can remember very clearly listening to “Miles Ahead” on my dad’s hand-me-down mini-disc player when I was about eleven years old. I was at my friend’s little league baseball game, just walking around with these bright yellow earphones in my ears, listening to Miles Davis. When I look back on that memory, it was a pretty strange thing for a little kid to be doing, but there was something about the music that drew me. Until I found jazz, I never listened to music unless my parents or friends were playing it on the radio.
People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?
I really don’t think I have a natural affinity towards the technical aspects of the trumpet. My jazz vocabulary and ability to hear things were pretty strong from a young age, but I still struggle a lot with the technical aspects. It’s hard! Not necessarily the hardest, but it definitely wears you out quicker than most instruments. Once I get into my fifties and sixties I am going to have to learn how to sing… haha!

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

Miles for sure. Somehow, I imagine he will always stand on a pedestal in my mind. And that’s a funny thing to say, because it is almost illogical to have a favorite on any one instrument – there are just so many greats. But, there is something so different about Miles. One of my favorite recordings of Miles is on the album “My Funny Valentine” from 1964 when he plays “Stella by Starlight”.