Jim Pugh

Jim is a distinguished trombonist, composer, and educator. The inspiring virtuosity and wonderful versatility he has demonstrated during the course of his career has caused Jim to be often honored as the “musician's musician”. Whether he is performing as a concerto soloist in a symphonic setting, recording and touring with legendary artists in the fields of classical, jazz, and rock, or bringing forth his own exciting new compositions that expand the role of brass in contemporary music, his creativity knows no boundaries.

Jim began studying piano at age five and trombone at age ten. After university studies, he toured extensively as lead and solo trombone with the Woody Herman Band and with Chick Corea before deciding to settle down and make New York City his home. Jim became New York's top-call freelance trombonist for film scores, records, and music for television and radio advertising: over the past thirty-years he has lent his special talent to more than four thousand recording sessions. His trombone can be heard in recorded collaboration with leading classical and popular artists and orchestras such as Yo-Yo Ma, Steely Dan, Eos, Concordia, St. Luke’s Orchestra, André Previn, Paul Simon, Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Pink Floyd, and Frank Sinatra. Jim has been called on to add his solo trombone to feature film soundtracks including A League of Their Own, When Harry Met Sally, Meet Joe Black, and on hit Broadway cast recordings City of Angels, Fosse and Victor/Victoria.  Since 2000 he has been the solo trombonist with the seminal jazz/rock group Steely Dan, both recording and touring.

In 2003 Jim "re-premiered" the Nathaniel Shilkret Trombone Concerto to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops Orchestra. This mid-twentieth century masterpiece, originally written for Tommy Dorsey, will be heard in its first recording, along with Jim's own Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra and Jeff Tyzik’s Trombone Concerto, on his CD “X-Over Trombone”, released by Albany Records (TROY926)
Jim Pugh is the only recipient of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Virtuoso Award for Tenor Trombone, awarded after being voted Tenor Trombone MVP by the New York recording community for five years. Jim's original music and arrangements can be heard on National Public Radio, in film scores, on jingles, on record and since 2009, on the Tony Awards TV Broadcast. His composition, "Lunch with Schrödinger's Cat", received a Lincoln Center premiere in 1989 by Marin Alsop and the Concordia Chamber Orchestra and was most recently performed at the Krannert Center in 2012 by Sinfonia da Camera. Jim premiered his Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra in May 1992 with the Williamsport Symphony. It received its New York premiere in March 2000 with soloist Joseph Alessi and Leonard Slatkin conducting the New York Philharmonic. Peter Ellefson, Professor of Trombone at Indiana University, recorded the piano reduction version on his album, "Pure Vida".

A founding member of the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble, several of Jim’s compositions can be heard on the group’s CDs “The Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble Plays The Music of James Pugh and Daniel Schnyder” and “Scenes of Spirits”, both available on the Signum label. Cherry Classics Music publishes Jim's compositions for brass.
In 2005, Jim was appointed Distinguished Professor of Jazz Trombone at the University of Illinois.  Under his guidance, the University of Illinois Jazz Trombone Ensemble has won the National Jazz Trombone Ensemble Competition three times (2012, 2014 and 2017) and the Kai Winding Jazz Trombone Ensemble competition twice (2012 and 2017).  Students of Jim's have gone on to active careers playing in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Richmond, New Orleans and Washington DC, military (Navy Commodores), writing (US Marine Band - chief arranger), and teaching (University of New Orleans, Bradley University).  Prior to his appointment at Illinois, he taught at SUNY - Purchase College, the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) and at New York University.  
Jim appears frequently at schools and universities throughout the country as guest artist/clinician and has been a clinician/soloist at numerous Eastern Trombone Workshops (now the American Trombone Workshop) and International Trombone Festivals.  Though  Jim currently performs on a BAC Custom trombone, he was instrumental in the development of small-bore instruments for both the Edwards and S.E.Shires Instrument Companies.  A multi-decade long, close association with David Monette resulted in David's development of the Monette TS6 and TS11 tenor trombone mouthpieces.  Jim is also a consultant for the Facet Mute Company.  Not formally a fan of mutes, Jim now enjoys stuffing anything made by the Facet Mute Company into his bell.  He endorses all of these products and uses BAC horns, Monette mouthpieces and Facet mutes exclusively.