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.
Prior to hearing his first major release, All the Things We Still Can Be, I was unfamiliar with trumpet player and composer Jacob Varmus. I have to admit that it will often take listening to a few tracks before I warm up to, or can fully appreciate, the style of an artist that is unknown to me, but with Varmus I was drawn in from the first cut.
He plays with a pleasing round and full sound, and his improvisations are lyrical and musical.
His compositions have a sense of purpose and structure with very listenable and memorable melody lines.
I am personally eager to hear what he offers up next.-Scott Hockenberry, Jazz Improv Magazine
a powerful trumpet utterance....
The Jacob Varmus band astounds us with a euphonic elaboration including plenty of ardour, reverberations and candle luminance
Willing to teach