I don't really have a career as a jazz musician. I don't really have a career as a classical musician. I don't really have a career as a college professor, and yet I did all those things and I did them well. I put out some records in the 1980's and 1990's that changed the way some trumpet players played.

— Paul Smoker

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I don't know if the music moves forward anymore.

I haven't heard anything for years - except refinement - coming out of the jazz world.


There was a time, in my early 20s, when I picked up the trumpet and said, 'I've got to change what I'm doing.' I wasn't putting enough air through the horn. The tone I wanted was bigger than what I had. I was out of control.


I use a lot of double-tonguing [using the tongue to control airflow];

that allows me to play as fast as if I was slurring, but with clean articulation on every note.


When I was in high school I made the discovery that if I was playing in a jazz club, and there were black people in the club, if I could get the black people to like what I was doing, I was on the right track. So I began to play to those people because they knew what the authentic music was. I've always had that in the back of my head.


Once I leave the studio I'm ready to do the next thing.

There are records I made that I haven't heard.


I go down to New York, do the project, and leave.

I have no interest in participating in the rat race down there. Hip jazz fans know who I am. There's a generation of musicians in New York who know my records better than I do.

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