Terell Stafford

Terell Stafford will join other musicians Friday, July 3, 2020, from the Philly Pops in the City’s Celebration of Freedom and “POPS on Independence” will be streamed at 7 p.m. —Peter B. Blaikie photo

Terell Stafford was once hailed by piano legend McCoy Tyner as “one of the great players of our time and a fabulous trumpet player.”

Since the mid-1990s, Stafford has performed with such great and well-known groups as Benny Golson’s Sextet, Tyner’s Sextet, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band among many others.

Additionally, Stafford is a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, which was awarded a Grammy for Best Large Ensemble for “Live at the Village Vanguard” in 2009.

Born in Miami and raised in Chicago, Stafford says music was always on his mind, even before he picked a genre.

“While living in Chicago my parents exposed me to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” he recalls. “And from that I decided I really wanted to play in an orchestra. And between all the twists and turns in life, with an eye toward playing classical trumpet, I eventually ended up playing jazz.”

So this well-respected trumpeter went on to study his craft, first receiving his bachelor’s of science in music education from the University of Maryland, and then a master’s of music from Rutgers University.

He moved to the Philadelphia area on the suggestion of a friend. Stafford is constantly displaying his talent, even teaching it to others at Temple University, where he is the director of jazz studies and chair of instrumental studies.

And on Friday, July 3, Stafford will join other musicians from the Philly Pops in the City’s Celebration of Freedom. “POPS on Independence” will be streamed at 7 p.m., and accessible at phillypops.org or WelcomeAmerica.com.

“There’s a ‘Fanfare for Frontline Workers’ that will be featured, and I’ll be playing that Fanfare with the brass section,” Stafford says. “And that’s exciting. Then I’ll be playing with the Philly Pops, which is exciting as well. You know the music is different for all of us. The music comes from our spirits and our souls. And it’s been really interesting not to be able to connect with another person’s spirit and soul from an artistic point of view.

“But now that is changing and I’m excited,” he says. “To make music with these great musicians after three months of not doing so. There’s one thing you can’t do virtually and that’s actually playing with other musicians face-to-face. So I’m really looking forward to this first time coming together — with all the protocols in place, of course. And I just can’t wait.”

Stafford goes on to describe himself as a “jazz trumpeter, an educator and administrator. I’m a composer, an arranger and so on. But I think mainly I’m a people person and those who know me know that. And that’s what’s so difficult about this pandemic.

“I put my heart and soul into everything I do and miss all the passion that goes with it. Although one thing about this pandemic is it’s making me rethink my priorities — especially when it comes to my wife and little daughter. I used to travel a lot, and now that I’m home I’ve gotten to know and appreciate my family more than ever before.”

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