Growing up in the St. Louis area, Will found a love for jazz and big band music from the start of his trumpet playing journey. His biggest musical influence is Miles Davis (who was also born in Alton!) Some of his other favorite trumpet players are Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Dorham, and Chet Baker.
Born and raised in Alton IL, Will Schmalbeck is rising as one of Chicago’s most in demand professional trumpet players. He received his bachelors and masters degrees in trumpet performance from the University of Illinois. At the U of I, he played in many groups including the Marching Illini, the Concert Jazz Band, and the Latin Jazz Ensemble. He performed with jazz legends such as Christian McBride and Doc Severinsen. During this time he became close friends with Airius, Casey, James, and Jack; who all encouraged him to move to Chicago and join the Jaywalkers.
Now, Will is a core member of Chicago’s Shout Section Big Band, the Chicago Skyliners Big Band, the Afro Caribbean Jazz Collective, and of course, the Cosmic Jaywalkers. Will has also subbed in many of Chicago’s top jazz ensembles. You can catch him playing in some of the finest jazz clubs in Chicago such as The Green Mill, Andy’s Jazz Club, and the Jazz Showcase. He is thrilled to blend his jazz expertise with the CJW through his skills in arranging, improvising, and lead trumpet playing.
When he’s not practicing or playing shows, Will loves checking out new restaurants, playing videos games, watching anime, and listening to lofi beats to study/relax too.