Martin Committee

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The Martin Committee was the premier trumpet of the Martin Band Instrument Company of Elkhart IN. The firm produced band instruments, including trumpets, cornets, fluegelhorns, trombones, and saxophones beginning in 1908 and through the sixties. The Martin Committee trumpets and saxophones were favorites of jazz musicians.


The Martin Committee trumpet was originally designed in the late 1930s for the Martin Band Instrument Company by a "committee" of diverse players and teachers.

The first advertisement for the Martin Committee ran in the December 1, 1940 issue of Down Beat. It listed the committee as follows:

  • Fred Berman, popular radio staff star, probably the busiest trumpet player and teacher in Boston.
  • Otto Kurt Schmeisser, formerly with the Boston and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, later a successful teacher in Detroit.
  • Jimmy Neilson, Band Director and Instrumental Instructor, Oklahoma City University - an outstanding trumpet and cornet artist.
  • Dana Garrett, formerly cornet soloist of the Sousa Band - now first trumpet, Capitol Theatre, Washington, D.C.
  • Renold Schilke, one of the most highly skilled artists in America, first trumpet with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • Charlie Spivak, rated "tops" by everybody who knows - now heading his own fine combination.

The input of the committee was taken into consideration during the Committee trumpet's design process.

The horn became widely adopted in jazz music because of its warm, rich sound and flexible intonation. It has a unique sound that has been described as "dark and smokey".

Miles Davis played custom-made Committees throughout his career. Other notable players include Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Lee Morgan, Maynard Ferguson, Art Farmer, Wallace Roney, and Chris Botti.

When Martin was purchased by Leblanc, the original Committee design was discontinued and a new instrument carried the name. These horns were produced until 2007, when the Martin brand was dropped by Conn-Selmer who had purchased Leblanc in 2004.

Vintage Martin Committee trumpets are highly sought after. Medium-bore versions from the 1940s-1960s frequently command well over $2000 on the popular online auction site. The large-bore versions often sell for over $3000.