The legendary trumpeteer talks his unparalleled career as studio musician in Hollywood and his journey with composer John Williams as principal trumpet on 40+ films between 1973 and 2011, including some of the Maestro’s most beloved scores such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park and the Indiana Jones films
Among the musicians who performed for John Williams in Los Angeles, trumpet legend Malcolm McNab has certainly a place of honour. This incredibly talented musician started to perform for the composer in 1973, playing lovely lyrical solos in the score for the film The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (directed by Richard C. Sarafian, starring Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles). His exquisite playing immediately became a benchmark and, from that moment onward, McNab became principal trumpet for virtually all John Williams’s recordings in Los Angeles from 1973 until 2011, becoming one of the longest-serving members (if not the single longest) in his pick-up orchestra: a grand total of 46 film scores, including some of the Maestro’s most iconic works like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, The Witches of Eastwick, Home Alone, Hook, Far and Away, Minority Report, plus several television projects (including Amazing Stories, Great Performances and the theme for the NBC Nightly News programs) and other special projects such as the live-to-picture performance of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the film’s 20th anniversary in March 2002. He also had lovely lyrical solos in Stanley & Iris (1990).
Malcolm McNab’s career highlights don’t stop however just at his many successful collaborations with John Williams. The trumpeteer has also been the first-call principal trumpet for many other great Hollywood composers including Jerry Goldsmith, Alex North, James Horner, Randy Newman, James Newton Howard, Bruce Broughton, Michael Kamen, with many of them writing beautiful solo parts especially for him. McNab’s truly impressive list of credits includes many of Hollywood’s most famous movies of the last 45 years. His playing can be heard in hundreds of memorable soundtracks, including the Rocky series, several Star Trek movies, Pretty Woman, The Karate Kid, Spider-Man 1 and 2, The Sixth Sense, Silverado, Edward Scissorhands, Independence Day, the Lethal Weapon films, Pirates of the Caribbean, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Pixar’s Toy Story 1, 2 and 3, Cars and Monsters, Inc., and many, many others. He can be heard as featured soloist in John Barry’s Dances With Wolves, Randy Newman’s Avalon, Jerry Goldsmith’s L.A. Confidential and The Last Castle, James Horner’s Glory, just to name a few.
In this rich, in-depth conversation, Malcolm talks about his career as studio musician legend, performing for virtually every great composer in Hollywood and performing both exquisite solos and virtuosic trumpet parts in many film scores. He talks at length about his many years performing for John Williams, from the first gig in 1973 to the success of scores like Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park, reflecting on the evolution of the trumpet section in Williams’s scores and the challenges of performing very difficult parts on many occasions, but also the fun and the joy of recording source music for Jaws and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. McNab also recollects his experiences with rock legend Frank Zappa, his friendship with Uan Rasey and his many collaborations with Jerry Goldsmith.