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Scott Wendholt

“On a day when I’m feeling really good, I can get around almost anything I want to say on the trumpet,” responds the 32-year-old trumpeter Scott Wendholt when complemented on his technical abilities. That’s not idle bravado. His playing on “Beyond Thursday” makes it clear that he's a virtuoso, the kind of improviser who conceives and executes monstrously complex passages with such fluid elegance and golden tone that his prodigious technique never calls attention to itself.

Born July 21, 1965 in Denver, Colorado, and raised in the Mile High City, Wendholt first picked up the trumpet in the third grade and began improvising in the fifth. He was inspired by two exceptional teachers, Linda Walker and Ed Barnes. Barnes ran a city-wide elementary school group that “played some Blues and a reasonable facsimile of jazz; he was an inspirational guy who provided at least some tools for jazz improvisation. In ninth grade, Greg Gisbert, a classmate who’s a great trumpeter living in New York, hipped me to Art Blakey’s “Straight Ahead,” featuring Wynton Marsalis, which I listened to hundreds of times. Up to that point jazz to me was Al Hirt, Chuck Mangione, and Spyro Gyra, because there wasn’t really any jazz in my house. That’s when I started to realize, “Oh, wait a minute; this is Jazz,” and began to understand what the term Bebop meant. I had a lot of friends within a grade or two of me who went on to become great players, like Gisbert, Javon Jackson, John Gunther (a great tenor player), guitarist Mike Abbott, drummer Peter Abbott, and alto saxophonist Brad Leali, who I had a lot of opportunities to play with in extracurricular bands, or all-county or all-city type things. It was a very fertile time.”

Wendholt attended Indiana University, in David Baker’s Jazz Studies program, between 1983 and 1987. “It was a very productive four years. David was inspirational to me as was Alan Dean, a wonderful teacher with whom I studied trumpet. Bob Hurst was there, Ralph Bowen, Jim Beard, Pharez Whitted, the tenor player Tom Gullion, altoist David Bixler, and pianist Joe Gilman. Also Chris Botti and Shawn Pelton, who have had great success on the pop scene. After leaving I.U. I moved to Cincinnati, where I stayed until 1989. I had a steady gig at King’s Island amusement park with a Rock-and-Roll band, which got me into the scene there. I then started playing with the Blue Wisp Big Band, a good band led by the drummer John Van Ohlen, and working sideman gigs. I hooked up with some great piano players, like Steve Schmidt, Bill Cunliffe, Ed Moss, and Phil De Greg. Bill is living in New York now and sounds great. All of them could hold their own in New York City if they chose to. I was welcome in Cincinnati because there weren’t a whole lot of younger horn players that were hungry and into rehearsing and playing a lot of music. It was a good training ground to be a leader, for learning tunes that were appropriate for small group gigs. I was basically just learning how to hang out, too, before the possible trauma of moving to New York.

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Normyn Suites

Sunnyside Records
2022

buy

Onward

Shifting Paradigm Records
2021

buy

Chamber Jazz

Summit Records
2020

buy

Into The Shadows

Summit Records
2020

buy

Hiding Out

Zoho Music
2019

buy

Quake

Sunnyside Records
2009

buy

Compelled

From: Hiding Out
By Scott Wendholt

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