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Marvin Stamm
Jazz Trumpet

Getting His Due

A Jazz Review by Thor Christensen
Dallas Morning News - Sunday, January 23, 2005

Marvin Stamm impresses full house at UTD

Like too many top-notch jazz players, Marvin Stamm is not a familiar name. His one brief claim to fame was playing the trumpet on Paul McCartney's 1971 chart-topper "Uncle Abert/Admiral Halsey." Even then, Sir Paul didn't credit him on the liner notes.

Mr. Stamm finally got the props he deserves Friday night, earning standing ovations from a full house n the University Theater at University of Texas at Dallas. It was a homecoming concert of sorts, since Mr. Stamm graduated in 1961 from what is now the University of North Texas before touring the world with Stan Kenton and Woody Herman.

Mr. Stamm performed Friday with his frequent partner, pianist Bill Mays., and two Dallas-area luminaries - drummer Ed Soph and upright bassist John Adams. Together, they grew tighter as the music grew more complex. "A lot of music is based on math," Mr. Stamm said, "and tonight we want to play you some calculus."

Indeed, the 65-year-old trumpeter uncorked some dazzling, intricate solos. But more often, he played with a soft, melancholy touch more reminiscent of Miles Davis than Maynard Ferguson. He was equally reserved as a bandleader, cracking a few jokes, but mostly concentrating on the music.

Mr. Mays, by comparison, ws the class clown, bobbing his head like a boxer, waving his hands like Liberace, and throwing in snippets of Civil War melodies for the heck of it. His feather-soft solos were sublime, but he was more impressive barreling through Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring."

When the pianist and trumpeter improvised together, they seemed telepathic, especially in the show opener, "Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise." But Mr. Soph stole the improvisational spotlight with his visceral drum solo in Mr. Stamm's song, "Samba du Nancy."

The quartet focused on ballads in the second half. But the first half was rocking, especially on the Bob Mintzer song, "Re-Re," which found Mr. Mays attacking the strings inside his piano.

A toddler in the second row obviously approved. He danced and air-conducted for 30 minutes straight, distracting audience members, but not Mr. Stamm. The trumpeter lamented the kid's absence after intermission.

"Where'd that child go?" Mr. Stamm asked. He was diggin' it."

The tot may have been annoying, but at least he had good taste.

Comments from a fellow musician who attended the that same 
January 21, 2005 Concert on the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas:

I went last night to see Stamm/Mays at UTD.  It was fantastic.  I could not believe that with no advertising at all the 300 or so seat theater was sold out, and they had to turn people away at the door.  Marvin Stamm was really holding the audience together with an excellent program, and he sounded mellow and warm and right on target.  Bill Mays, pianist, is the perfect musician and creative musician in all settings.  He should be much more well known than he is on a national level. I have known Bill for over 20 years and was probably the main reason that I left my boondocks to go to Dallas.  Ed Soph, drums, I never fully realized how good he is as percussionist and drummer. He could not have been better in any way or manner.  John Adams, bass, as usual was superb and did not bore the audience with extended solos or solos on every number that was performed.  Together they all played like they had been as a group for multiple years.  They received several encores, standing encores, and the band reciprocated easily in kind.  It was a true pleasure to have attended this gig and to have had the musical experience from it.
                                                                                                                     Regards, Bruce Tater

Some Jazz Greats Who Have Virtuosity Down to a Science
By Terry Teachout
Special to The Washington Post - Sunday, October 5, 2003; Page N02 


Since classical music and dance are mostly on hold in September, I decided to hit the nightclubs hard, and everything I saw was outstanding. To begin with, trumpeter Marvin Stamm, a Stan Kenton alumnus and musician's musician whose tasty playing never fails to ring the bell, brought his quartet into Birdland for a three-nighter. It was the group's first club gig in Manhattan, and the musicians made the most of it, playing with a ferocious blend of fire and surprise. Bill Mays, the pianist, was so hot on opening night that at times he came close to smoking the boss off the bandstand. As for Rufus Reid on bass and Ed Soph on drums -- well, they held their own and then some. Not only is it a tribute to Stamm's self-assurance that he's prepared to joust with a band that strong night after night, but he even invited a big-name guest, guitarist John Abercrombie, to sit in. 

(All three nights were recorded, incidentally, and Stamm plans to shop the tapes around town in the hope of finding a major label willing to put out an album's worth of exciting, imaginative, wilder- than-mainstream jazz. If somebody doesn't sign him up, somebody needs a new job.)

Hot House Magazine - Setember Issue, 2003
by Paul Blair

Too quick a glance .... at Marvin Stamm's lengthy entry in the AllMusicGuide.com website might lead you to believe that this trumpeter began recording with the Stan Kenton band in 1943, when he was just four years old. Not true. It's a discological typo of sorts. Stamm didn't actually join Kenton until the day after he'd graduated from North Texas State in 1961. And what a resumé he's built since then: a couple of years with Kenton (around the time of the leader's mellophonium infatuation), followed by two years of working in Reno, Nevada show bands and a year of climbing on and off Woody Herman's band bus, then (after relocating to New York) a lengthy period as a regular with both the first great Thad Jones-Mel Lewis aggregation and the crack big band then being led by arranger Duke Pearson.

Meanwhile, Stamm quickly became a fixture on the then-hot local studio scene, taking part in plenty of fine jazz recordings but also providing back-up for folks ranging from Al Kooper, Hall & Oates, Janis Ian, David Ruffin, Chaka Khan and Average White Band to Bob James, James Brown and, implausibly enough, Enoch Light.

"I started backing out of the studio scene around 1987," said Stamm. "All of a sudden, there were synthesizers everywhere. Worse yet, the arrangements we were given to play seemed to be getting worse and worse. I decided that if I was ever going to get back to the music I really loved - the stuff that had hooked me in the first place - it was then or never. Playing around Europe with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band had strengthened my determination, too. So for the past fifteen years, I've focused once again on jazz."

A large share of that work these days involves travel to events across the country and well beyond for appearances in front of symphony orchestras, at festivals and as part of specially arranged programs hosted by music schools, where Stamm is much in demand as both clinician and soloist with student ensembles. He's just returned from one such trip that took him and pianist Bill Mays to Greece for work in a university setting several hours outside Athens.

"These tend to be wonderful experiences," said Stamm. "Enthusiastic audiences, memorable dining, a generally laid-back atmosphere once you're there plus the chance to make new friends and rendezvous with old ones. But the travel can be quite draining, even before you arrive. As Phil Woods is fond of saying, 'Hey, I'd play the gig for free. You're just paying me for getting there and back!'"

Stamm grew up in Memphis as part of what he describes as "an old-fashioned family." Older brother Gordon, though, had an LP collection that included sides by Kenton, Shelly Manne, Shorty Rogers and Clifford Brown. "Trying to play along with those records was really my introduction to jazz," he said. "Sure, there was a wonderful jazz scene in Memphis when I was a high school kid - Garnett Brown, Frank Strozier, Harold Mabern, Jamil Nasser, Booker Little and musicians of that caliber - but I didn't know those people then. I was at home studying on weeknights and then playing around town with little dance bands on weekends." (At www.marvinstamm.com, Marvin recalled that Clyde McCoy's "Sugar Blues," another disc in his brother's collection, first piqued his interest in trumpet as a seventh grader.)

Bill Mays is a key member of the quartet Marvin works with most frequently these days. (Another studio vet, Bill too decided in the mid-'80s that enough was enough.) So are bassist Rufus Reid ("I recall first meeting Rufus at a band clinic we were doing in Cleveland about twenty-five years ago.”) and drummer Ed Soph, who's also a North Texas grad. Their remarkable interplay is well documented on "The Stamm/Soph Project," released on Stamm's own Marstam Music label.

Joining the quartet on guitar for their four night Birdland appearance will be John Abercrombie. Stamm first met Abercrombie about six years ago when they were both, for a time, residents of the same Westchester County town. "I went over to his place to play some sessions," recalls Marvin, "and discovered that he was not only a brilliant soloist but also a superb accompanist. As a guy with a completely open mind, he fits beautifully into this group. And as for Bill, Rufus and Ed, I must say that I've never - absolutely never - played with musicians who respond so intuitively and so well to one another. No matter where we go, this sort of interaction seems to please audiences immensely. Better yet, it always thrills me."

Symphony Uses Jazz To Uplift Spirits

Springfield News-Leader - September 17, 2001

The cruel events of Sept. 11 left their mark on Saturday’s opening concert of the Springfield Symphony’s 67th season. Conductor Apo Hsu, who became a U.S. citizen in 1996, fought back tears to explain that “music will uplift our spirits” and show that “we are all one people.”

With the Hammons Hall stage flanked by the U.S. and Missouri state flags, soprano Jane Munson-Berg joined the orchestra for stirring accounts of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”

The evening’s guest artists, the Marvin Stamm Quartet, had arrived in the wee hours of Saturday morning after a five-hour flight.

Jazz trumpeter and spokesman Stamm dedicated their performance to “all fellow Americans affected by the tragedy.” He and pianist Bill Mays, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Todd Strait then made a strong yet understated case for the healing qualities of jazz, the uniquely American art form.

Elegance and urbanity were the hallmarks of the quartet’s interplay among themselves and with the orchestra as a whole. From Jobim’s “Corcovado” to a 20-minute suite based on sophisticated tunes by Duke Ellington, the orchestra’s lush strings, plangent brass and spiky percussionists were wholly in sync with the quartet’s gently swinging but always lyrical playing.

Three original compositions by Stamm and Mays provided additional high points. Stamm’s “Two As One” showcased his dynamic trumpet in musical conversation with the pianist, while Bowman’s bass lent melodic commentary. “Samba du Nancy,” dedicated to his wife, accented Stamm’s nimble fingering as he matched Mays’ cascades of piano notes.

The pianist’s Brazil-inspired “Play Song” provided long lines for Stamm’s impressive breath control and ended with an exquisitely sustained soft passage.

The “Ellington Fantasy” draws on the songbook of America’s most honored jazz composer. Classic tunes like “Sophisticated Lady,” “In a Mellow Tone,” “Come Sunday,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Caravan” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” speak volumes about the sovereignty and legacy of America’s unique musical idiom.

                                                                                     -- Larry T. Collins, Springfield News-Leader - 9/17/01

Stamm:  Brass with Polish

Marvin Stamm explained to his audience Monday night that he was on a mission to prove that “the trumpet is not an instrument of torture.” By then, though, Stamm – guest artist for a taping of “Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center” for national Public Radio – already seemed to have won over everyone at the Terrace Theater with his warmly expressive tone, melodic lines and economical phrasing.

A big-band veteran whose credits include stints with the Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestras as well as extensive studio work, Stamm has never received even a small fraction of the radio exposure accorded many younger and less gifted jazz musicians. So, his collaborations with Taylor’s trio, which were always enjoyable and sometimes inspired, proved heartening from the outset.

His take on Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” was a particularly impressive example of Stamm’s trumpet technique, at once fluid and soulful, while “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Corcovado” found him playing the flugelhorn, infusing the familiar melodies with a warm glow and a seductive lyricism.

Taylor and his trio mates – bassist Chip Jackson and drummer Winard Harper – are so adept at providing their guests with neatly integrated accompaniment that it’s easy to take their remarkable handiwork for granted. They all contributed to the evening’s highlights, fashioning colorful solos and ensemble passages that both complemented and inspired Stamm’s delightful performances.
                                                                                       -- Mike Joyce, The Washington Post - 1/31/ 01

"Like most jazz fans, I recognized Marvin Stamm's name as a mark of quality long before I could identify his trumpet style: busy and sophisticated technique; controlled, matte-finish timbre; and a blend of jazz's traditions of lyricism and showmanship. After brief stints with the Stan Kenton and Woody Herman bands of the early 1960s, Stamm moved to New York, where he alternated between lucrative commercial-studio work and big band or brass-backed jazz dates. His commercial work was anonymous, but if you found Stamm's name in the credits of a jazz album you could be assured of its craftsmanship; any producer willing to pay for his talents must have taken the proceedings seriously. Stamm cemented his jazz credentials as a frequent member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra from 1967 to '72, but his two albums of the 90s (Bop Boy and Mystery Man, both on Musicmasters) provide a greater service than even his recordings with that ensemble- they lift his trumpet out of a horn section and let him carry the show as a consummate small-group leader. Stamm has very few peers among improvising trumpeters; his skill and experience allow him to command any idiom or tempo, and he solos the way a matador plays with a bull. He teases the tune, dancing ahead of the beat; then, sweeping his lines aside, he lets the rhythm rush past; finally he faces the music and drives home his point. "

                                                                                       -- Neil Tesser, The Chicago Reader

"Marvin Stamm Leads His Combo at the Baked Potato. He is an accomplished performer whose technical skill is used as a means to stimulating original ends...Level of musicianship in the group assured results that were cohesive and meaningful." 

                                                                                       -- Leonard Feather, The Los Angeles Times 

"His solos are well-constructed, self-sustaining, balanced...always exciting ...and when the mood of the piece dictates, delicate, economical, always just splendid, musical jazz." 

                                                                                       -- Crescendo and Jazz Magazine, London

 "From unfettered driving tunes to soft and pensive episodes...Stamm's ability to tell stories with his horn is impressive, and his lyrical chops are strong." 

                                                                                       -- Herb Wong, Jazz Educator's Journal

"Always boiling with intensity, color and passion." 

                                                                                       -- John S. Wilson, The New York Times

 "Marvin Stamm is among the most reliably swinging, imaginative trumpeter/flugelhornists in jazz." 

                                                                                     -- Jay Harvey, Indianapolis Star 

Home | Bio | Booking | Videos | Photos | Cadenzas | CDs | CD Reviews | Discography | Email | Equipment

In Response | Schedule | Workshops/Clinics | With Orchestra | Marvin Stamm Qt. | Stamm/Mays Duo | Inventions Trio