Born: October 6, 1973 Primary Instrument: Cornet
Being pushed in a pram along the banks of La Scala in 1976 the two-year old Jacob Varmus suddenly emitted squeals and shrieks of unmasked delight. The most rapturous sounds he'd ever heard were bouncing off the plaza stone: a lone trumpeter's warming up from within open stage doors at the local opera house. Ten years later Jacob Varmus had a trumpet of his own and began winning top marks at all the California Music Educators' Association festivals for his work as soloist (Haydn's trumpet concerto and Goedicke's Concert Etude) and chamber musician.
Evolving parallel to his love of music was an interest and talent in using language artistically thru poetry, critical essays, and autobiographical stories. In high school he won awards for poetry and sports journalism (an avid San Francisco Giants fan) as well as music. His first year of college, Jacob was admitted to the undergraduate Iowa Writers Workshop for poetry where he studied closely with MacArthur grant recipient Jorie Graham. At Iowa he also had the good fortune of studying with classical trumpet virtuoso David Greenhoe.
An initiation to the music and mastery of John Coltrane, as well as inspiring lessons with progressive trumpeter (and Iowa alum) Paul Smoker led Varmus to focus primarily on learning jazz music to the fullest. In 1994 he decided to move to New York to finish his BFA at the New School Jazz program where he received timeless lessons from a long list of artists including Arnie Lawrence and Billy Harper. Here he became known to his peers and elders as a composer of harmonically intricate yet compellingly simple and striking tunes.
In his senior year he was selected by the Jazz Composers' Collective to write a suite combining jazz quintet with string quartet which featured Ted Nash and Frank Kimbrough. Continuing with his interest in developing as a composer (and helping others do the same) he founded Workshop 39, a jazz composers' workshop in Long Island City, and found work as an incidental music composer for theater companies like Yankee Rep. In 2005 he won a commission from the Queens Council on the Arts to present 'Queensboro Plaza' a suite for jazz quintet drawing on the types of rhythmic cross currents associated with Steve Reich, a harmonic language close to Stravinsky's and Scriabin's, and the collective improvisation of early jazz.
Awards:First Place International Trumpet Guild Student Jazz Competition, 1994; KJA Jazz Advocate Top Ten Albums of the Year (All the Things We Still Can Be, 2006) Queens Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Grant for Queens Library Jazz Series, 2008 Banff Centre For the Arts scholarship, 2005 Queens Council on the Arts commission, 2005
a powerful trumpet utterance.... The Jacob Varmus band astounds us with a euphonic elaboration including plenty of ardour, reverberations and candle luminance. Varmus is more than generous here. His musings lay on the music of monstrous jazz creators such as Shorter and Monk. Yet Varmus sounds unique among as his peers. That said, Varmus’s inspiration on Chet and Miles is brilliant, gently marked and pushed along by be-bop and post-bop oriented structures.-Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez, JazzReview.com
On Jacob Varmus' debut recording he proves to be an exciting trumpeter, composer and bandleader.-Michael P. Gladstone, All About Jazz
Here's a new trumpet player that will simply blow you away. Falling in love with trumpet at 2 years old, he has carried his life long love affair with the instrument to extremes that have really taken him places along the way. This set shows him falling right in step with the masters and the greats. While he might be paying a debt of gratitude, he mostly stands on his own two feet with a smooth, round tone that's all his own and will earn him stature right next to the greats that have come before. A pure player that doesn't go in for farce or overwrought chops displays, Varmus is one solid jazzbo to keep an ear out for because he's too good to miss. -Chris Spector,Midwest Record Recap
Be all you can be' is the feeling you get when you hear the jazz trumpet of one Jacob Varmus...And, as you take in his talent as well, Jacob's artistry is 'all that he is.' Jacob's bebop concept has very traditional leanings as seen through the musical eyes of his fine mind & original compositions. In addition to his obvious abilities as a stylistic consolidator, he explores elements of jazz that he exults in performing with a certain passionate energy, interpreting his music with equal ease, while he emits the sheer joy of making art, music, et al. Check him out!! George W. Carroll,The Musicians' Ombudsman
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.