Jazz Trumpeter Rod McGaha Returns to the Cathedral

Jazz trumpeter Rod McGaha, who performed at Christ Church Cathedral in 2011, will return on February 15 to play a Valentine’s concert in the Nave. McGaha, a Chicago native, is known for blending a variety of global influences into a fresh sound. As Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band, says, “Rod McGaha is a one-of-a-kind musician and has his own identity on the trumpet—an instrument that millions of people play—and that's saying something.”

While he is also admired as an instrumentalist, singer, and composer, it is McGaha’s presence as a performing artist that has garnered him respect from top musicians in the industry. A past winner of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award for Outstanding Jazz Trumpeter and the Oak Lawn Jazz Festival All Star Award, McGaha has joined the ranks of some of the most promising up and coming jazz musicians today.

McGaha’s father was a jazz buff who introduced him to Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong at an early age. McGaha began playing guitar and trumpet around fourth grade, but eventually focused on the horn due to a high school teacher’s great influence.

After playing in numerous school bands and clubs around town, McGaha began his professional musical career right out of high school. Later, while attending Northeastern University in Chicago and then DePaul University on scholarship, he began focusing on developing his jazz chops. Famed trumpeter Clark Terry (who played with Duke Ellington and Count Basie) discovered McGaha at a local festival and took the young performer under his wing, which led to numerous jazz cruises.

While McGaha’s extensive resume as a sideman includes gigs and tours with top pop and soul names like Kenny Rogers, Bebe and Cece Winans, the O’Jays, Take 6, and Lou Rawls, he is also a highly decorated jazz performer. Among his other trophies are the Maynard Ferguson Award from the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival and the Outstanding Trumpet Soloist Award from the National Association of Jazz Educators. He has appeared on BET, and his song “Wish I Knew” was recorded by Shelby Lynne and is featured in the movie Two If By Sea.

McGaha has had the opportunity to play his music throughout the world, with stops in Egypt, Nigeria, Europe, and Japan. “There is no doubt that seeing and hearing the people and music of all these cultures has played a part in what I create,” he says. “I don’t consciously create songs based on one specific image or another, but the exposure has helped increase my global awareness.”

To see a video of McGaha playing with the Nashville Jazz Workshop in 2011, click here.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and attendees will have an opportunity to meet McGaha at a reception in the Parish Hall afterward. There is a suggested donation of $15 for adults and $5 for students.

Dianne Green