The Firebird trumpet is a unique combination of a trumpet and trombone, invented by Maynard Ferguson in the 1970’s. It features the normal 3 valves you find on a standard trumpet, plus a ½-length trombone slide. Therefore, although one can play all 12 notes using the valves, only ½ of all the notes can be played using just the slide. The player needs to use the valves and slide in conjunction. As of 2000, Maynard developed a Firebird with a full-length slide, but there’s only one of these … and it was sold in Maynard’s estate sale.
Read the official Wikipedia article on the Firebird trumpet
I am the only known Firebird player in New York City (though there are a couple of other slide trumpet players here), and the way I use this instrument takes full advantage of all its potential … to an even greater degree than Maynard ever envisioned. I use the Firebird to play very accurate Indian gamakams, or ornaments, including shakes, slides, and unconventional tuning.
Listen to an example of me playing the Firebird
What follows is everything you ever wanted to know about Firebird playing technique, but were afraid to ask. Or maybe you tried to ask me after a gig and I didn’t have time to explain it all to you. Sit back with a cup of chai and watch all these YouTube videos. It picks up after the first one or two, I promise.