Trumpet and flugelhorn artist Jeff Carver features this quotation on the home page of his website: “Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” – trumpet legend Miles Davis
If you have been fortunate enough to hear Jeff Carver play at one of his many gigs around the Twin Cities, you will have sensed his deep passion for music that flows through his artistry. Although Carver has worn a number of hats throughout his early years, the only role he is passionately pursuing now is that of being a consummate trumpet and flugelhorn artist, performer and entertainer – and he is at full tilt with that!
I heard Jeff Carver play recently at one of his gigs and did a follow-up interview with him later in order to learn more about the man himself and his great passion for music.
RCJ: I’m curious about the Miles Davis quotation – why have you chosen to feature it under your picture on your website?
Carver: I heard this quotation for a few years and never really understood it. I quit trumpet playing in the middle 1980’s and did some corporate business things, mainly to put food on the table. I picked up the horn again in ’97, I think, and played with a couple local bands. I was really discouraged with my playing and the music I was doing; I knew I was not doing what I really wanted to and there was no passion at all. The trouble was, I didn’t know what I wanted, or was supposed to do with the trumpet…quitting again sounded easier. I never intended to pick it up again.
Fast forward to 2004…something drew me to playing again, but this time I was determined to do only the kinds of things I wanted to do and play. I now play primarily smooth jazz in a few groups and high-energy dance music in a local 11-piece, 3-horn band. It’s really my two personalities, the beautiful warm, emotional smooth jazz sounds, and the rock ’em sock ’em screaming trumpet sound of R&B and dance. I put my own sound to whatever I do, and I get hired for that sound! It took a long time, but I have finally learned to sound like myself!
RCJ: You’ve achieved name recognition here in the Twin Cities area and have become a significant entertainer in the music industry – what is giving you the most satisfaction at this stage of your career?
Carver: The most satisfaction is hard to say. Definitely, the amount of performing I do is incredibly satisfying. It has been a bit hard on the social life, but most of my friends come out and hang at gigs, knowing my “nights out with the boys” have really gone away.
When I was a kid, one of my heroes was a trumpet player named Bud Brisbois, one of the best in the world at that time. His powerful sound was a big influence on me. His brother, who lives locally, comes out to many of my gigs…it’s very inspiring.
Also, I find it wonderfully satisfying and humbling to get to work with the great musicians in the Twin Cities. Ricky Peterson, a local musician, arranger and producer, who travels the world performing with some of the top entertainers, always encouraged me to play trumpet again. We have now had a chance to play together and have begun working on my new record. His support and love, as well as the love from his family and many of his musical friends, have helped me understand more of the smooth jazz aspect of my playing and be comfortable with what my true sound and musical purpose really is. To get asked to perform because of a sound or a style that has become one’s own is the ultimate satisfaction, I believe.
RCJ: You have so many years of performing ahead of you – what’s high up on your list of things you still most want to accomplish?
Carver: First, I want to stay very, very busy working! I love performing, recording and keeping things as fresh as possible, for both my audience and for me. I want to finish my record very soon and make sure that it really defines my sound. I have a variety of new solo projects, one of which has exciting touring possibilities, and they are quickly gaining momentum.
RCJ: What do you feel sets you apart from other jazz soloists, and what would you personally like your many fans and followers to know about Jeff Carver, the man and his music?
Carver: When you come out to see me, no matter what music I am doing, you will see and hear everything I’ve got….everything! I promise passion and emotion in every note I play. I don’t know if this separates me from other players or not, but I know this is what I have inside, what I was put on Earth to do, and what I can’t wait to do every day. It took a while to get here, but if feels really, really good.
I heard Jeff Carver play trumpet many years ago when he was working with high school students, and then lost track of him until recently. It was exciting for me to hear “the new Jeff Carver” who now plays his trumpet and flugelhorn every day because it feels “really, really good.” It is clear to me that Jeff is one jazz artist who most definitely has discovered what it means to “be playing like himself”!
Thanks for the interview opportunity, Jeff. I’m looking forward to hearing your record as soon as it is released.
Personal interview with Jeff Carver