By Christopher Dean Elliott
The first thing you notice when you open the Jupiter 1600I XO’s case is its beauty. It is a classic design with a stunning silver plate that would instill a pride of ownership in any player. The bell engraving is a simple cursive XO whose austerity reflects the restraint and good taste that is present throughout this elegant instrument.
A second set of valve buttons, springs and bottom valve caps ship with the 1600I XO. The buttons that come on the instrument have a mother of pearl inlay whereas the extra set are polished silver. The extra valve caps are a little heavier than the ones from the factory and the extra springs offer a lighter action than those that come stock on the horn.
The XO additionally comes with an elliptical tuning slide as well as the standard rounded tuning slide. Not to obsess on the case and the freebies, but there is even a little slot inside the case where the valve oil rides. This is smart, and I applaud the presentation of the trumpet, the extras and the case design.
Next up, the party! I just so happens that I threw a party at my house on the weekend I was asked to write my impressions of the Jupiter 1600I XO Trumpet. We set up a full backline and a PA system and a lot of my musician friends came over for a lovely organic meal and a dip in the pool along with some vicious jamming.
The Jupiter 16001 XO Trumpet passed its test with flying colors on the gig and in practice with our resident Musician's Friend trumpeter, Chris Elliott.
Among the early arrivals was one of LA’s beloved elder musical statesmen on tenor sax and vocal, along with a solid rhythm section. The main mission for me was to cop the man’s licks and find a harmony space, and this horn practically played itself.
I experienced easy note slotting and I was confident in my intonation all the way through the set. I took some solos on a few 12-‐bar tunes and elevated the volume and pitch quite a bit, and this buttery low end became present. I was delighted with the solo timbre and so was the rest of the band.
My understanding of the 1600I XO’s design is that it’s aimed at commercial and lead players, but blues and R&B section players shouldn’t discount this horn if they are looking for a trumpet in this price range. It is fat, powerful, loud and present, and serves wonderfully in that capacity. It blends and intonates well, and if you need to step out and play a commanding solo, the XO can really bark. I am not a range player, but on the ending of a rambunctious song in concert C, I was able to pop the high D with an unexpected clarity and volume.
That was Saturday, and on Sunday afternoon I did my steady jam session gig with The 360 Horns. It is a sectional gig with no charts, taking cues from various guitar players and singers who sit in with the house band. It’s a typical blues jam, but the leaders get a strong horn section with baritone, tenor, alto and trumpet to use as he or she sees fit. The intonation with the larger section was as just easy as it was playing with the one other horn.
By this time, I was pretty accustomed to the weight and balance of the instrument and attempted some more ambitious lead playing (again, not my specialty) and more aggressive soloing. Any limitations that presented themselves were certainly not the fault of the horn, and amid all of this laudation, I can attest to you that this trumpet is quite capable of delivering a loud, obvious and truly spectacular high note clam. The valve action is fast with perfect resistance for me going down and a really brisk return, and my upper register was no broader than it generally is as I grew accustomed to the XO, but without a doubt, it was fatter.
The high notes do not shriek, but rather possess much of the butter I that I described as characterizing its cello range. All three of my section mates on this gig asked me if I had made an equipment change, as my sound was appreciably stronger, louder and more harmonically rich than it typically is. It is appreciably better sounding than either of the trumpets I own, both of which are professional instruments.
My next encounter with the horn consisted of a normal practice routine. I had two gigs coming up, one funk cover gig and one jazz gig with great players. The jazz gig had a rehearsal set up for the very next day, and to stand next to elite players put some pressure on me to hit the rehearsal prepared.
I embarked upon a practice session alone in a small room with a chair and a music stand, the environment where brass and wind musicians spend so much of our playing time. The valve action was a pleasure to work with, and as I acclimated myself to the trickier valve combinations that would be required for the coming weekend, I really began to fall in love with this horn.
Those gigs went beautifully with no equipment hassle, a big and warm sound, and a real sense of having delivered. Quite appropriately, the Jupiter 1600I XO’s final task before I had to return it was a sounding of Taps, played impromptu before a Memorial Day parade to a gathering of about a hundred people waiting for the parade to start. It sounded fantastic, full of life and color, and it did a magnificent job of bringing into focus the solemnity of the Memorial Day observance. Man, I love this horn.