July/August 2007

Jupiter XO Series Tribune Trumpet

It is my assumption that not only in the Hudson Valley of New York State, where my musical beginnings took root, but all over the country, the Jupiter instrument company has been closely associated with the grade-school-level brass boy or girl; in particular, the aspiring 10- to 16-year-old trombonist. If I were a betting man, I might lay heavy odds that it wasn’t just 13-year-old Nathan Arbeitman, my childhood friend and bandmate, who took pride in his trombone being named after the largest planet in our solar system, and who took the liberty of decorating the Jupiter logo on his trombone case with colorful crayon meanderings. I’d wager that this activity was repeated many times over by Nathans coast to coast, a regular sight for the junior-high band directors. But folks, class is out: Jupiter has graduated to a professional-level line of instruments in its XO Series, and I had the chance to test its new Tribune XO 1602S model trumpet.

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Jupiter XO Series Tribune Trumpet

I am probably the last person getting paid to play the trumpet who gives two licks about looks. However, the first thing one notices about this horn is its handsome appearance. It comes in an extremely attractive brown leather case featuring a mouthpiece pouch, a large music pocket and backpack straps. Any urban trumpeter would be happy toting this Jupiter horn around in style (no need for crayons). The horn looks gorgeous, beautifully lacquered with bell engravings reminiscent of some prewar trumpets.

Aside from constructing a beautiful horn, Jupiter has gone out of its way to convince prospective purchasers that the Tribune XO is worth their money by providing several user-friendly features. With so many styles of trumpet manufacturing taking place today and so much information on every aspect of trumpet construction readily available, putting these options in players’ hands is a great idea, and quite timely. The horn comes standard with two tuning crooks, two sets of valve buttons, two sets of bottom valve caps, and two sets of valve springs. The tuning crooks provide two slightly different feels in resistance, the “D” shaped slide having somewhat more resistance than its more rounded counterpart. In terms of the valve buttons, your choice is between a thinner, old-style gold-plated button or a thicker, pearl-inlaid version. This is very much a personal choice, and both function properly. The thicker valve caps provide a heavier option for those who appreciate a little redistribution of gravity toward the middle of the horn. The valve springs come in regular or light resistance. This actually provides two very different feel options, and allows the player to experiment with them. If it seemed helpful, one could easily train the fingers with the heavier springs and perform with the lighter ones, much like a batter swinging with weighted donuts on the bat in the on-deck circle. These features certainly go a long way toward making the instrument a worthwhile choice.

On to the horn itself. It has a medium-large bore and is very heavy, in line with many of today’s most popular jazz trumpets. The instrument can withstand a lot of air, enabling a rich, dark sound. The playability remains constant throughout the registers, blowing free and easy, with impeccable intonation. The timbre has integrity at loud and soft volumes, with no stuffiness playing softly, and no limitations playing loudly. The sound of the Tribune XO would blend nicely for section playing, and would be perfectly apropos for studio work. Basically, the horn functions properly in all ways, and makes for an excellent professional-quality working instrument.

While the horn sounds as it’s supposed to, it’s just a bit too proper and a bit too safe to stand out as the next great horn choice for the jazz soloist. In the studio, playing horn parts where nuance is essentially mixed out, the sound has everything you need. But what’s missing from the horn is precisely nuance, namely brassy resonance. The sound will fill a small room or reach a microphone adequately, but the unamplified, acoustic sound would not fill a concert hall or large club with the overtones the discerning ear might long for. The quality of sound is just a little stiff, and will not reverberate an audience’s guts when blasting, nor melt their soul on a ballad, simply because the overtones are not there.

All in all, Jupiter has a success on its hands in the Tribune XO. The horn will likely be very popular in coming years as an affordably priced professional instrument, deserving to be in the hands of top players. The discerning jazz soloist may have to look elsewhere for a vehicle to express personal voice most effectively. However, no one need be leery that he or she is purchasing one of the school-level instruments Jupiter is famous for.

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