Freddie Jones: Game On!

Nicholas F. Mondello BY

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Dallas-based trumpeter, composer, producer and educator/clinician, Freddie Jones is one busy musician—especially on certain Sundays. He has the honor of performing our National Anthem before every Dallas Cowboys home game. In addition to actively freelancing and recording, he teaches and devotes countless hours with his efforts for a wonderful music education charity he founded, Trumpets4Kids.

All About Jazz: Freddie, on behalf of All About Jazz.com, thanks for taking time.

Freddie Jones: Thanks, Nick

AAJ: I know you have a lot of things going on now, but, for those who might like to know more about you, please tell us about your background.

FJ: I grew up in Lauderdale Sub, a section of Memphis, Tennessee and started playing trumpet in high school. We put a little group together and started playing. After high school, I went to North Texas State where I received a degree in jazz performance.

AAJ: Memphis was a great town for music. Trumpeter Marvin Stamm, another NTSU grad, was from there.

FJ: Yes, and great pianists, too—James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, Phineas Newborn, Jr. and Donald Brown. They were all from there.

AAJ: What happened after NTSU?

FJ: Well, after I graduated my daughter Jessica was born. I soon had two kids and didn't want to go out on the road, so I stopped playing for nine years to take care of them. I was a professional photographer. I worked at a camera shop. I did what I had to do to take care of my kids.

AAJ: And eventually getting to Dallas?

FJ: Well, I started playing with a reggae band in town and in a quartet called the Earl Harvin Quintet.

AAJ: How did the prestigious and very visible Dallas Cowboys gig—playing the National Anthem before Cowboy home games—come about?

FJ: Well, as you know, the great trumpeter, Tommy Loy did that for many years. After he passed, they didn't have someone doing it. A year ago, one of their guys had the idea of bringing a trumpeter back to do it. One of my friends, Doug Bryant, threw my name into the hat without my knowing it. I got a call and went down and did the audition. The rest is history.

AAJ: I might be wrong, but, I think you are the only regularly performing National Anthem trumpet soloist at NFL games. That's quite a prestigious gig.

FJ: I didn't know that. I'm honored.

AAJ: Tell me the truth: the first time you played the Cowboys gig, were you nervous?

FJ: I just wanted to make sure that I wore the right color socks!

AAJ: Speaking of color, what's the deal with your blue trumpet?

FJ: It's a blue Martin Committee from like the 80s, a true Committee, similar to the kind Miles Davis played. Now, it's only a coincidence that it is blue. I didn't take it to the audition or to the gig because it somewhat matches Dallas Cowboys blue. That's the horn I've been playing for the last 10 years.

AAJ: I saw on YouTube that you played the Anthem for the Tommy Loy tribute the Cowboys had.

FJ: That was the first time I played the National Anthem for the Cowboys gig. I knew Tommy and his family. The family was there for the tribute. I really consider it an honor to stand and play in Tommy's shoes. I hope to do it as long as Tommy did it—27 years.

AAJ: I know you are heavily involved in the group Trumpets4Kids.

FJ: Yes, actually, I started it three years ago. I'm on the board, too. Before I started it, I was giving kids trumpets on my own. I was teaching near where I lived and buying and giving horns to students. I met a friend who lives in Fort Worth and she suggested that we should formalize the effort—do the 501c3 thing and go on. A friend and attorney named Charles McGarry sat me down and we did all the paperwork. We try to give away at least 15 trumpets a year.

AAJ: Other instruments or just trumpets?

FJ: Just trumpets. And, it's not only to make the kids become professional trumpet players. It's to have them make a life and have a way to go to college and become leaders. We have a 98% high school graduation rate of our kids. We do a "contract" with the kids who are mostly in junior high school, and they are required to practice an hour a day. If they continue through high school graduation, the trumpet is theirs to keep. If they decide to quit, they have to give the horn to their school. We just had one kid who got a full scholarship to North Texas State. And, if our students obtain a college scholarship, the Schilke Trumpet Company gives them a new Schilke trumpet. We also do "Trumpet Wars" where Elementary, Middle and High School brass ensembles can perform.

AAJ: How do you fund the program?

FJ: In the beginning, I was doing it myself. We just received our first grant from the Fort Worth Arts Council. We also get donations of horns and money from musicians throughout the country. There's a company here called Highway Marketing that helps us. I've been associated with David Instruments Repair and they sold us trumpets inexpensively. Trumpets4Kids is also supported by the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Arts Council, as well as trumpet greats Nicholas Payton, Arturo Sandoval and Courtney Jones and Cameron Smith. We also did a 5K run and a "Trumpet Wars" Kickstarter effort.

AAJ: You are also a very active freelance performer in Dallas Area.

FJ: Yes, I've played throughout the Southwest and play at different venues around town—the Dallas Museum of Art and various clubs. Also, all the shows at the Sambuca when it was up and running. I've also performed in Paris, Rotterdam and other cities in Europe. I also have five CDs out.

AAJ: Please tell me about your most recent release.

FJ: Your Last Movie is my latest recording. I wrote everything on it and produced it myself—my first as producer. It turned out pretty good—you're only as good as your last movie.

AAJ: Or, your last CD! You're also teaching?

FJ: Yes, I'm an adjunct professor at Brookhaven College and I also teach lessons here in my neighborhood. I've done clinics here and in Europe.

AAJ: Where can we learn more about Trumpets4Kids and Freddie Jones?

FJ: The website is trumpets4kids.com also on Facebook and my personal website is freddiejones.net.

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