Studio City Trumpeter Jules Chaikin Dies at 78

Judy and Jules Chaikin, center, with family.

Judy and Jules Chaikin, center, with family.

A Memorial was held Monday, Dec. 17, at the Musician’s Union, hosted by his wife of 57 years, Judy Chaikin, and their children Matt and Danielle. The musician’s hall was packed with family, friends, and fellow musicians, people who Jules loved and whose lives were better for knowing him.

Richard Hurwitz, Jules’ dear friend since childhood and his brother-in-law, wrote and directed “Requiem for a Lead Trumpet Player” played by nine of the best trumpet players in the business. An appropriate and superb start to the moving memorial with touching and personal stories from great composers, musicians, and his family.

A life story/visual tribute showed the boy, the groom, the father and grandfather, and the musician with the many greats he worked with. For a tiny woman, Judy Chaikin stood tall. She spoke of her husband and best friend, her true love for most of her lifetime. Then the trumpet players played the “Trumpeter’s Prayer” and “El Nino Perdido.” Traditional and touching.

It’s oddly interesting to learn what we don’t really know about our neighbors, family, and long time friends. Jules Chaikin has been a long time friend for 60 years, from teens through the present. We met at LACC, he was in the Music Department and his girlfriend (since early grade school), Judy, was in Theatre Arts. They married, had a family and thriving careers. Judy, as a film Producer-Director-Writer and Jules as a Musician.

For a great trumpet player, Jules never tooted his own horn. Even Judy was surprised and moved by the testimonials on his Facebook page from so many musicians saying they owe their careers to Jules. At home, he didn’t talk about his business, but made a beautiful home and life for his family. He fell in love with Cabo San Lucas and had a second residence there with room for kids and grandchildren. Judy was with him in Cabo the day after Thanksgiving when his very big heart completed its job.

This is a stunning loss to his family, friends, the music community, and the entire country. Jules Chaikin was a serious American citizen and his strong voice was heard along with his music.

This is a tip of the iceberg of Jules story – from an obituary: “Jules Chaikin, lead trumpet with the big bands of Stan Kenton and Les Brown, studio musician, music contractor, and contributor to film scores, died of heart failure on Nov. 23 in Cabo San Lucas. Jules was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles. He began his trumpet studies at age 11 at the L.A. Music and Art School in East Los Angeles under the guidance of Robert Webb and later with trumpeter Jimmy Stamp. A trumpet scholarship has been set up in Jules Chaikin’s honor at the L.A. Music and Arts School.

“Jules played lead trumpet for Kenton and Brown as well as Jerry Gray, Ray Anthony, Gerald Wilson, and Burt Bacharach. As a studio musician, he participated in recording sessions with Jefferson Airplane, the Carpenters, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Anka, Chicago, the Turtles, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Kenny Rogers, Lou Rawls, Manhattan Transfer, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, and Johnny Mathis.

“Jules was also a music contractor, hiring musicians for recording artists such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Julio Iglesias, Natalie Cole, Andrea Bocelli, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Josh Groban, Michael Feinstein, Michael Buble, and Diana Krall. He was the house contractor for the Greek Theater, the Universal Amphitheater, and the Pantages Theater.

“In addition, his work with composers such as Johnny Mandel, David Foster, Jeremy Lubbock, Ian Freebairn-Smith, and John Williams expanded his career into film projects including Phantom of the Paradise, Uptown Saturday Night, Badlands, The Rose, A Star Is Born, Bugsy Malone, Roxanne, Sleepless in Seattle, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Ghostbusters, and Star Wars. His television credits include a 20-year run as the music contractor of the Grammy Awards as well as the BET Awards and the Latin Grammys and TV specials with Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson, and Rod Stewart. He was the national secretary/treasurer of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

“Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Judy Chaikin; a son and a daughter; and three grandchildren.”

Donating to the Jules Chaikin trumpet scholarship at the L.A. Music and Arts School will help upcoming musicians toot their horns and make their mark on the lives of others.

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