A rare trumpet ‘Martin Committee’ in B Flat, model T3460, circa 1980, designed and played by jazz legend, Miles Davis will be offered by Christie’s at its Exceptional Sale on 29 October in New York. One of three rare trumpets designed and played by Miles Davis, could sell for between $70,000 and $100,000.
The trumpet was made by the Martin Company, which had been founded in Chicago in 1865 by the German instrument-maker, Johann Heinrich Martin. By the middle of the 20th century, demand for its trumpets was pretty much insatiable. Dizzy Gillespie was a huge fan, Miles Davis was another.
Davis was particularly fond of a model called the Committee. So much so that when the Martin Company was sold to a rival manufacturer in the 1960s — and the production of Committee trumpets officially stopped — they continued to be custom-made for Davis.
The Committee horn being auctioned was one of a set of three conceived by designer Larry Ramirez, who was a part-time jazz trumpeter himself. At Davis’s request, one was coloured red, one blue and one black — each of them decorated with a gilt moon and stars, and with the word ‘Miles’ inscribed inside the bell.
The trumpet coming to Christie’s, then, is both a fine piece of craftsmanship and marks a crucial moment in Davis’s career, as he made his long-awaited return to music.
As for the two other ‘Moon and Stars’ horns made at the same time, the red trumpet has remained in the star’s family since his death in 1991, while the black one is buried at Davis’s side in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.