A virtuoso known for his tremendous range and superior technical command, Soloff has played trumpet with a remarkable array of talent, including mentors Gil Evans and Machito, Joe Henderson, Maynard Ferguson, Clark Terry, Tito Puente, Ornette Coleman, Aretha Franklin, and Barbra Streisand, among numerous others. As a member of the groundbreaking band Blood Sweat & Tears from 1968 – 1973, his trumpet solos became an indelible part of American culture (he created those searing horn lines in “Spinning Wheel”).
Born in Brooklyn, on February 20, 1944, Soloff was raised in Lakewood, New Jersey and started studying piano at an early age. He took up the trumpet when he was 10 and his interest in the instrument surged, thanks to the record collections of his grandfather and uncle. Exposed to artists such as Roy Eldridge and Louis Armstrong as a youngster, Soloff recalls, “there was a high scale I remember from Armstrong’s recording ‘I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music.’ He played this run with such quiet finesse and beauty, I wanted to play like that.” Soloff spent several years at Juilliard Preparatory until he entered the Eastman School of Music in 1961. Already a professional musician, he had spent his summers as a teenager playing hotels and country clubs in the Borscht Belt (the Catskill Mountains of New York). After graduating from Eastman, where he found himself in practice bands with fellow students such as Chuck Mangione, he spent a year in graduate school at Julliard. It was the mid-1960’s and the fertile jazz scene in New York City ignited Soloff’s full-time career.
“When I first settled in the city it was my association with Machito, which made my reputation in the Latin jazz community. About the same time, I started playing in rehearsal bands that brought me in contact with players like Phil Woods, Eddie Gomez, Pepper Adams, Duke Pearson and Frank Foster,” the artist explains. Jam sessions with the likes of Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers, and Elvin Jones solidified Soloff’s bebop skills.
By 1966, he was performing with Maynard Ferguson and soon became a regular in the Joe Henderson / Kenny Dorham Big Band. That year he also joined the Gil Evans Group, an affiliation he considers his most influential. “I first met Gil Evans when I was 22 and he became my musical Godfather,” remembers Soloff. It was a creative relationship that lasted until Evans’ death in 1988. In the large bands of the 1960s, Soloff received his continuing education, joining groups led by Clark Terry, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri including the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band. But it was in the popular groundbreaking group Blood, Sweat And Tears that Soloff’s trumpet solos became an indelible part of American culture. He was an integral part of the band from 1968 to 1973, racking up 9 Gold records, a Grammy for “Record of The Year”(1969) and creating those searing horn lines in “Spinning Wheel.”
Following his time with Blood, Sweat And Tears, Soloff demonstrated his distinguished abilities in the studio. The depth of recordings that include his work illustrate why he is consistently in demand. Some of those projects include releases by; Roy Ayers, Bob Belden, George Benson, Benny Carter, Stanley Clarke, Paquito D’Rivera, Miles Davis/Quincy Jones (Live At Montreux), Mercer Ellington, Grant Green, Lionel Hampton, Bob James, Herbie Mann, Tania Maria, Carmen McRae, Laura Nyro, Jaco Pastorius, Mongo Santamaria, Little Jimmy Scott, Wayne Shorter and Stanley Turrentine.
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