Jeff Stockham’s Authentic Jazz
Syracuse, New York trumpeter Jeff Stockham delivers bold tones, bright as a blaze, round as a bell, and as incisive as a well-sharpened blade. Whether blowing a cornet, valve trombone, flugelhorn, trumpet, or French horn, his phrasing remains ever-tasteful thanks to his excellent ear and exquisite embouchure. Trained at Rochester’s prestigious Eastman School of Music, Stockham’s an astute chart-reader and an agile improvisor.
Stockham’s also a marvelous musicologist. Each of those varied talents will come into play from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, October 6, when he brings his 11-piece Stock Market Swing Orchestra to the Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, in Morristown, New Jersey; morrismuseum.org; 973-971-3700.
The orchestra will entertain at the museum’s annual gala fundraiser playing original dance band arrangements from the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. The gala celebrating “boisterous, beautiful brass” coincides with the opening of a three-month-long exhibition of historic instruments called “Trumpets: Weird and Wonderful,” from the Joe and Joella Utley Collection of the National Music Museum located in Vermillion, South Dakota.
Collecting Vintage Instruments
Stockham himself has amassed one of the most impressive private brass instrument collections in the Northeast. It includes several valuable pieces which he rarely takes on the road other than for films and Civil War reenactments. Some of his oldest are keyed bugles circa 1805 to 1810 which were the first fully-chromatic brass instruments besides slide trombones.
The Excelsior Cornet Band—Stockham’s authentic Civil War Era military ensemble—often plays those old bugles as well as 19th century over-the-shoulder saxhorns. Stockham also performed in and supplied instruments for Steven Spielberg’s 2012 biopic, “Lincoln.”
The Stock Market Swing Orchestra earned the Morris Museum booking thanks to Stockham’s friendship with Sabine Klaus, curator of the Utley Collection, whom he met through the Cornet Conspiracy and the Historic Brass Society in New York City. She recommended to Morris Museum director, Dr. Cleveland Johnson, hire Stockham’s big band to supply vintage music for the October 6 gala. Dr. Johnson previously served as director of the National Music Museum.
“I will do some brief demonstrations of antique brass instruments from my collection as well,” Stockham said.
“When you pick up these old instruments, it’s a direct connection to the past,” he added. *“When you play them, it’s like breathing life into the 19th century. It’s bringing the past into the present and that’s really the joy of collecting this stuff.”
Stock Market Swing
The Stock Market Swing Orchestra’s book includes standards such as Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” Fletcher Henderson’s “Christopher Columbus,” Benny Goodman’s “King Porter Stomp,” and Artie Shaw’s “Begin the Beguine.”
“But we’ll also play some more obscure tunes,” Stockham said, mentioning Hoagy Carmichael’s “Ol’ Buttermilk Sky” and “Oh, You Crazy Moon,” waxed by Tommy Dorsey in 1939.
Authenticity is the Stock Market Swing Orchestra’s stock-in-trade. Stockham will blow a Selmer Paris “Louis Armstrong” style Balanced Model trumpet, and a Conn 36B “New Era” trumpet, a type which Armstrong also used.
“I plan for the appearance of the band, as well as the music, to capture the style of the Jazz Age,” Stockham said. “We’re even using a 1920s-style suspension microphone.”
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