Trumpet in B-flat

Martin Band Instrument Company American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 680

Dizzy Gillespie was noted for playing trumpets with an upturned bell. These sonically and visually distinctive instruments became his calling card. It remains unclear as to whether Gillespie’s preference for these instruments developed after seeing such an instrument being used while on tour with the Teddy Hill band in Manchester, UK in 1937 or if it was the result of the more popularly recounted incident where the bell of Gillespie’s horn was damaged and bent upward during a gig at Snookie’s in New York City in 1953. By 1954, Gillespie was playing trumpets deliberately made with an upturned bell, including one made for him by Martin.

Martin produced a very limited number of Dizzy Gillespie Committee Model trumpets. These were not part of Martin’s standard production and were sold by special order. Although this particular instrument was not played by Gillespie, it exemplifies the design and make of instrument that achieved iconic status in his hands. This example is in near perfect condition and unusually survives with its original case, Al Cass mouthpiece and accessories, including its original owner’s manual in the form of a hang tag.

Trumpet in B-flat, Martin Band Instrument Company, Brass, mother of pearl, American

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