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Jimmy Leach trumpet, classical and jazz music


Jimmy Leach grew up in a musical household in Oklahoma. An accomplished singer and trumpeter while still a teenager, Jimmy’s first professional job took him to Orlando, Florida. He was one of four university trumpet players who won positions in a summer jazz band at Walt Disney World. Jimmy’s band backed up such jazz greats as George Roberts, Rob McConnell, Alan Dawson, Don Rader, Roger Pemberton, and Rich Matteson.

During his undergraduate degree, Jimmy played three solo recitals, and won the Northwest Arkansas Symphony Concerto-Aria competition, as well as the Arkansas Music Teachers National Association solo competition. He received the Theodore Presser Scholar award as the top music graduate at the University of Arkansas.

While earning a master’s degree in trumpet performance, Jimmy performed Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #2 and was the outstanding graduate music student at the University of Central Arkansas. Jimmy played and sang in the early jazz ensemble, lead trumpet in the jazz ensemble, and directed and arranged music for the jazz combo. Jimmy was also the tenor soloist at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock.

Jimmy’s first job as a music educator took him to Eureka Springs Arkansas, where he taught grades 1-12––elementary music, band, and choir––for four years. He took a small, ragtag band to superior ratings at region contest in only one year. Also an accomplished keyboardist, Jimmy played organ at two churches: First Presbyterian and First Methodist.

Relocating to the home of the blues, Jimmy spent a year of graduate study at the University of Memphis, where he was a busy freelancer. He burnished his musical credentials further by playing lead trumpet for Johnny Mathis in a pair of concerts at the Orpheum. Always singing, Jimmy was the tenor soloist at Calvary Episcopal in Memphis.

After a year in Memphis, Jimmy accepted his first university position at Southwestern Oklahoma State in Weatherford, where he taught trumpet and jazz. Between teaching terms, Jimmy lived in Nashville for two summers and played lead trumpet in shows at Opryland. During his third summer, Jimmy attended the Aspen Music Festival, studying with Ray Mase, and performed in both the classical as well as the jazz groups of the festival. He backed up Emanuel Ax, Marlena Shaw, and Thelonious Monk, Jr.

Jimmy began traveling the world playing trumpet and singing on Holland American Line ships. During three tours including Alaska, the South Pacific, and the Western Caribbean, Jimmy played hundreds of shows with many great entertainers including Shirley Jones.

His next musical tour of duty came took him to Kentucky on a National Endowment of the Arts. On a rural residency grant, Jimmy played hundreds of concerts in schools and churches all over the state in The Brass Company quintet. An avid arranger, Jimmy created dozens of musical works to entertain school kids as well as adults.

Jimmy moved to Boston and earned a doctorate degree in trumpet performance at Boston University, where he studied with Tom Rolfs, principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony. Working with Jeremy Yudkin, Jimmy wrote his dissertation on the singing and trumpet playing of Louis Armstrong. For his degree, Jimmy performed two solo recitals, a brass quintet recital, plus a performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale.

While in Boston, Jimmy thrived in an urban area where he played with Boston Lyric Opera (under Keith Lockhart), Boston Classical Orchestra, and sang at Trinity Church and St. Peter’s in Weston. Leading his jazz combo, Jimmy sang and played trumpet at many venues around the Boston area. Jimmy also arranged many works for professional brass quintets.

Jimmy twice performed the National Anthem for the Red Sox in Fenway Park, both as a solo singer and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra Brass and Percussion, John Williams and Seiji Ozawa, conducting. 

Jimmy’s teaching abilities were tapped for five semesters at Harvard University, where he received three teaching awards for courses in music history, jazz history, and music theory.

Relocating to the Midwest, Jimmy has performed in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, including the Grand Rapids Symphony, West Shore Symphony, the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, Truth in Jazz Orchestra, LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, and Oberlin College.

A favorite of the West Michigan Jazz Society, Jimmy has led his jazz quintet in performances at the summertime Jazz in the Park series at the Gerald Ford Museum, the B.O.B., as well as Jazz Vespers at First United Methodist and Park Street Church in Grand Rapids. 

Jimmy often returns to New England for concerts. In June of 2015, he presented a solo trumpet recital on the series at the Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church. During the holidays, Jimmy performs in a benefit concert given by the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra at Emmanuel Church in Boston.

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