Willie Thomas, Trumpeter, Teacher, Awesome

Willie Thomas has a ton of great lessons up on YouTube. He’s a trumpeter who has played with some of the great jass musicians of the mid-20th century. Some are organized around tunes, others are organized around a principle, like chromatic drills, bebop scales, diminished scales, and lots more. He plays trumpet, but anybody into improvising in jazz (or any other genre, really), can learn a ton from him and his approach.

In the videos below, Uncle Willie takes a Emily Miner through an introduction to improvising over the course of four videos. Her experience is repeated tens of thousands of times across the US and elsewhere. This described me for a long time, and it might describe you, too. People who played through middle school, high school, and college, often in a big band, but never (or rarely) took a solo. Too scary!  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Willie has even more videos on his web site that are structured to take you through his lessons smoothly and in order. Best advice is to sign up for his lessons so you get his concepts down in the right order.

Stellar! Thanks, SO much, Willie, for making your teaching available. I love your stuff! If you want to study further, check out his web site, JazzEveryone.com. For a mere $15 a month, you can take your jazz skills to the next level.

Emily hits the shed, keeps taking lessons with Willie, and here’s Emily 8-10 weeks later.




Emily and Willie close out their session with the Charlie Parker tune, Now’s the Time. Here are absolute masters killing the tune. It starts out with a bass duet between Ray Brown and Christian McBride. Other artists at this ’94 Carnegie Hall concert are:

Christian McBride(b)
Ray Brown(b)
Jackie McLean(as)
Hank Jones(p)
Herbie Hancock(p)
Joe Henderson(ts)
Roy Hargrove(tp)
Dee Dee Bridgewater(vo)
Vanessa Williams(vo)
Kenny Burrell(g)
Kenny Washington(ds)
Betty Carter(vo)

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