James PughProfessor of Jazz Studies (Trombone and Composition/Arranging)
B.M. and Performer's Certificate, The Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.
Jim Pugh joined the UIUC faculty in 2005. Jim is a distinguished trombonist, composer, and educator. The inspiring virtuosity and wonderful versatility he has demonstrated during the course of his career has caused Jim to be often honored as the “musician's musician”. Whether he is performing as a concerto soloist in a symphonic setting, recording and touring with legendary artists in the fields of classical, jazz, and rock, or bringing forth his own exciting new compositions that expand the role of brass in contemporary music, his creativity knows no boundaries.
Jim began studying piano at age five and trombone at age ten. After university studies, he toured extensively as lead and solo trombone with the Woody Herman Band and with Chick Corea before deciding to settle down and make New York City his home. Jim became New York's top-call freelance trombonist for film scores, records, and music for television and radio advertising: over the past thirty-years he has lent his special talent to more than four thousand recording sessions. His trombone can be heard in recorded collaboration with leading classical and popular artists and orchestras such as Yo-Yo Ma, Steely Dan, Eos, Concordia, St. Luke’s Orchestra, André Previn, Paul Simon, Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Pink Floyd, and Frank Sinatra. Jim has been called on to add his solo voice to feature film soundtracks including A League of Their Own, When Harry Met Sally, and Meet Joe Black; and on hit Broadway cast recordings City of Angels, Fosse and Victor/Victoria.
In 2003 Jim "re-premiered" the Nathaniel Shilkret Trombone Concerto to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops Orchestra. This mid-twentieth century masterpiece, originally written for Tommy Dorsey, will be heard in its first recording, along with Jim's own Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra and Jeff Tyzik’s Trombone Concerto, on his CD “X-Over Trombone”, released by Albany Records (TROY926)
Jim Pugh is the only recipient of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Virtuoso Award for Tenor trombone, awarded after being voted Tenor Trombone MVP by the New York recording community for five years. Jim's original music and arrangements can be heard on National Public Radio, in film scores, on "jingles," and on record. His composition, Lunch with Schrödinger's Cat, received a Lincoln Center premiere in 1989 by Marin Alsop and the Concordia Chamber Orchestra and was performed at the Krannert Center in 2012 by Sinfonia da Camera. Jim premiered his Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra in May 1992 with the Williamsport Symphony. It received its New York premiere in March 2000 with soloist Joseph Alessi and Leonard Slatkin conducting the New York Philharmonic and the piano reduction version has been recorded by Peter Ellefson, Professor of Trombone at Indiana University.
A founding member of the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble, several of Jim’s compositions can be heard on the group’s CDs “The Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble Plays The Music of James Pugh and Daniel Schnyder” and “Scenes of Spirits”, available on the Signum label. Prior to his appointment at Illinois, he has taught at SUNY-Purchase College, the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) and at New York University. He appears frequently at schools throughout the country as a guest artist/clinician. Many of these clinics/concerts are made possible through the help of the S. E. Shires Co. Jim has been involved with recent developments in the Shires small bore tenor trombone and worked closely with Dave Monette in the development of the Monette TS11 and TS6 tenor trombone mouthpieces. He endorses both of these products and plays Shires trombones and Monette mouthpieces exclusively.