David Champouillon, director of jazz studies at East Tennessee State University, is following in his teacher's footsteps.
"My high school trumpet teacher, Elliott Topalian, is my biggest professional influence. We have a scholarship named after him. I teach jazz and trumpet at the university level to pass on what my teachers have all given to me. Topalian gave up a national performance career to teach high school. He is why and how I base everything I do here upon," he says.
He is very proud of the new jazz concentration at ETSU. "It diversifies what we offer here with music education and performance. One of our graduates, trumpeter Justin Stanton, has gone to international acclaim and recently won a Grammy Award as a member of the group Snark Puppy. The curriculum is comprehensive, including jazz courses in improvisation, arranging, composition, performance, applied study, music industry, music technology and recording techniques. We have outstanding jazz faculty including Martin Walters (bass), Barry Hannah (guitar) and Jason Day (piano). Walters has won several Grammy Awards in sound engineering."
The program offers generous scholarships and draws audiences from across the Southeast to its concerts, according to Champouillon.
"We give two concerts a year, bringing in national level jazz artists to perform with the ETSU Jazz Ensemble. This academic year the concerts are Dec. 4 and April 29 at 7:30 at the Culp Auditorium on campus. The fall concert features legendary jazz educator and performer Joe Riposo.
"The April concert features a reunion of USAF band jazz musicians featuring guitarist Wayne Wilkinson and drummer Ken French. Prior guest artists have included Doc Severinsen, Maynard Ferguson, Jon Faddis, Bill Watrous, Wallace Roney, Sean Jones, Vince DiMartino, Ron Modell, Al Hood, Marvin Stamm, Bill Mays, Rufus Reid, Ed Soph, Vaughn Nark, Pete BarenBregge, Ed Shaughnessy, Chip McNeill, Steve Turre, Conrad Herwig and Lenore Raphael."
Champouillon's first introduction to jazz was at Cicero High School in New York. "Besides being national marching band champions, we had a great jazz ensemble. Maynard Ferguson was the first and biggest influence on all of us." His other musical influences are Clifford Brown and Clark Terry.
Personally, his inspirations are his mom who made sure he had lessons and a good trumpet and his grandmother who emigrated from Germany at age 16 and founded their family in the U.S.
"My internal inspiration is personally to do the best for the student and myself, and be the best I can be," he says.
He plays all kinds of jazz. His group is called the Jazz Doctors, because "we can perform whatever is necessary. I love "straight-ahead jazz' and "jazz-rock.' Jazz is so spontaneous – the big draw is due to its improvisational nature."
He loves jazz, but he also performs classical, rock and popular music. "I often perform with The Temptations, for example. I have also recorded and performed extensively with American artist Ed Snodderly. I also perform nationally with artist Lenore Raphael and numerous groups. I am a performing artist for Bach Trumpets and jazz columnist for The Brass Herald out of the UK."
His performance credits include a wide range of groups, Utah Symphony, Oakland Symphony, Lehigh Chamber Orchestra, Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony, Danville Symphony, Greeley Philharmonic, Symphony of the Mountains, Southern Mississippi Festival Orchestra, Billy Vera Big Band, Central New York Jazz Orchestra, Vince DiMartino, The Temptations, The Drifters, The Moody Blues, Jay Beckenstein, Tom Schuman, Marvin Hammlisch, Mel Torme, Marvin Stamm, Rufus Reid, Ed Soph, Bill Mays, John Blake, Avery Sharpe, Butch Reid, Sumi Tonooka, Wallace Roney, Sean Jones, Bill Watrous, Ed Shaughnessy, John Jensen, Don Menza, Arturo Sandoval, Disney Ice Shows, Jerry Butler, Gary Graffman and Su Li.
He has been a featured soloist with the Hellenic Camerata, Westminster Chamber Orchestra, Ogden City Concert Band, Johnson City Community Concert Band, ETSU Wind Ensemble, Johnson City Symphony, University of Northern Colorado Orchestra and the Skaneateles Brass Ensemble.
He is the former principal trumpet of the Salt Lake Symphony, Johnson City Symphony, Utah Chamber Orchestra, Ballet West, Utah Opera, Ash Lawn-Highland Opera Company, Utah Festival Orchestra, Skaneateles Brass Ensemble, the Tennessee Brass and Johnson City Civic Chorale.
He has performed at the M&T Jazz Fest, Notre Dame Jazz Festival, Budweiser Jazz Festival, Budweiser Rhythm and Blues Festival, Tri-Cities Jazz Fest, Blue Plum Fest, Highlands Jazz Festival, Greeley Jazz Festival and several International Trumpet Guild conferences.
Champouillon holds classical and jazz degrees up to the doctorate level. His bachelor's degree is from the University of Miami, regarded as one of the top five jazz programs in the world. His master's degree is from Eastern Illinois University and his doctorate is from the University of Northern Colorado. He has won two Downbeat awards for the Best College Big Band and has been teaching for 22 years on the university level.
Recordings include Ed Snodderly's recent release "Little Egypt and other Delights," two United States Air Force Band albums, UNC Jazz Ensemble "Alive XV: This One's for Sandy," "Syracuse Symphony" CD and the NEA funded "Appalachian Harmony."
He also finds time to serve as brass reviewer for the Oxford University Press and jazz reviewer for Prentice Hall and McGraw-Hill.