malcolm mcnab

Trumpet player Malcolm McNab toured with Zappa's Grand Wazoo Orchestra, September 1972, and with the Petit Wazoo Orchestra (or The Mothers, as they were called at the time) from October until December 1972.

He took part in the recordings of "The Grand Wazoo" and of "Lather" / "Orchestral Favorites", and can be heard on the "The Guitar World According To Frank Zappa", "Joe's Domage" and "Imaginary Diseases" album.

In 2006, Malcolm McNab released his first solo album, entitled "Exquisite - - The Artistry of Malcolm McNab". On this album Malcolm McNab performs a number of pieces with chamber ensembles. One of these pieces is Zappa's 'The Be-Bop Tango'.


July 18, 2012, Bobby Marquis aired an interview with Malcolm McNab on CKCU-FM, Ottowa's community radio station, as part of his "Frank Zappa Alumni Special" series.




  van dyke parks: discover america  (2)
    (1972, lp, usa, ??)    - incl.various zappa alumni


the mothers: the grand wazoo
   (1972, lp, usa, bizarre)
  1974 mayorga, lincoln- lincoln mayorga & distinguished col  
  1975 nilsson, harry- duit on mon dei  
  1976 lee, peggy- mirrors  
  1979 love at first bite- love at first bite  
  1979 frank zappa- orchestral favorites  
  1987 frank zappa- the guitar world according to frank zappa  
  1988 mccann, les- butterfly  
  1988 spies- by way of the world  
  1991 shire, david- david shire: at the movies (trumpet, cornet)  
  1991 byrne, david- forest  
  1992 babe  
  1992 toys  
  1993 la philharmonic trombo- music for all seasons (trombone)  
  1994 rampal, jean-pierre- fascinatin' rampal (jean-pierre ram    
  1994 newman, randy- maverick  


frank zappa: the lost episodes
   (1996, cd, usa, ryko)


frank zappa: lšther
   (1996, 3cd, usa, ryko)
       old gringo- old gringo  


frank zappa: joe's domage
    (2004, cd, usa, vaulternative records)


frank zappa: imaginary diseases
    (2006, cd, usa, zappa records)


malcolm mcnab: exquisite - the artistry of malcolm mcnab
    (2006, cd, usa, kinnell house records 1001) - incl. 'the be-bop tango' (frank zappa)


frank zappa: wazoo
    (2007, 2cd, usa, vaulternative records)


frank zappa: one shot deal
    (2008, cd, usa, zappa records)


frank zappa: little dots
    (2016, cd, usa, zappa records zr20026)
fz_littledots.jpg (37773 bytes)
  frank zappa: rollo / portland improvisation
    (2017, 10", usa, zappa records bpr1230) - record store day release
zappa_rollo_2017.jpg (30915 bytes)


random notes


Malcolm McNab started playing trumpet when he was nine years old with his father, Boyd McNab, as his first teacher. The young McNab won a PTA scholarship which allowed him to take trumpet lessons from Walter Laursen, noted Pasadena teacher and musician. Laursen made it possible for McNab to play trumpet in the Pasadena Symphony at age 16.

McNab  started studying at the age of 19 with James Stamp, a relationship that continued thereafter for many years. After touring with the San Francisco Ballet and an army stint with the West Point Band, he studied privately with William Vacchiano and John Ware, both of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He then toured the state of Maine for a year with a brass quintet. Returning to the Los Angeles area in 1969, McNab began his successful career as a studio musician and performer with symphony, ballet and theater orchestras.

Solo appearances include the California Chamber Symphony, Denver Symphony, Los Angeles Pops, Hollywood Bowl, San Diego Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, and the Pasadena Pops. Two-time winner of the Most Valuable Player Award of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, McNab has appeared on numerous records with major recording artists from 1970 to the present. These include concert groups such as the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra, L.A. Chamber Orchestra, N.Y. City Opera; popular artists such as Dionne Warwick, Frank Zappa, Peggy Lee, Chicago, Singers Unlimited, and The Carpenters. He can be heard on the Olympic recordings of 1984,1988,and 1992.

H i s  television experience includes playing in the Academy Awards, Grammy, and Emmy Awards orchestras for many years; performing on the title tracks of the major network news themes; and solo performances on such TV shows as "Deep Space Nine", "Highway to Heaven", and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman".

M c N a b ' s   motion picture soundtrack credits number over 1,200 from 1970 to the present and include:   E.T. , Jaws , Scrooged , Cocoon:   The Return , Coming to America , Indiana Jones , the Final Chapter , Star Trek (1 thru 6), The Package , Karate Kid III , Little Mermaid , Field of Dreams , Glory , War of the Roses , Always , Hard to Kill , Night Breed , Pretty Woman , Dick Tracy , Home Alone , Edward Scissorhands , Bonfire of the Vanities , Misery , Hook , Beauty & the Beast , Final Analysis , Rocketeer , Sleepwalkers , Robin Hood , Jurassic Park , Wyatt Earp , Maverick , Outbreak , First Knight , Congo , Batman Forever , Under Siege 2 , Waterworld , The Net , My Fellow Americans , Space Jam , Toy Story , James and the Giant Peach , First Wives Club , Mars Attacks , 101 Dalmations , Dante's Peak , Liar, Liar , Lost World , Men in Black , Speed 2 , Batman and Robin , My Best Friend's Wedding , and Hercules .

H i s  solo trumpet can be heard on such soundtracks as:   Dances with Wolves , The Gambler , Avalon , Crimson Tide , City Hall , In Country , Twister , Executive Decision , Independence Day , Con Air , Air Force One , The Postman , U.S.Marshalls , Renaissance Man, Toys, and L.A. Confidential .

T e a c h i n g  experience at the college level includes positions at U.C.L.A., Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Pomona College and at the Claremont Music Festival. His students have gone into such orchestras as the Houston Symphony and the Boston Pops Orchestra. In addition he has lectured at the International Trumpet Guild and the New York Brass Conference.

picture taken from the inside of his first solo album "Exquisite".


If you're not a trumpeter, you've never heard the name Malcolm McNab. But you've heard him play; since 1970, this Hollywood studio musician has contributed to some 1,500 movie soundtracks, including prominent solo work in Dances with Wolves and L.A. Confidential. When John Williams guest-conducted the Tucson Symphony once in the 1990s, with no disrespect to the local trumpet section he wanted to be sure he had a trumpeter who could handle the Hollywood style, so he brought McNab with him. In Los Angeles, this fellow commands the respect of a Wynton Marsalis.

Hollywood is no refuge for musicians who can't cut it in the classical world. Studio musicians must be able to sight-read anything, from simple melodies to wild excursions, and they have to put it all across with style and confidence, knowing that their work will be heard again and again, if sometimes only subliminally, by millions of people over the course of decades. (The next time you slip Jaws or E.T. into your DVD player, you're hearing Malcolm McNab-for the umpteenth time-in the trumpet section.)

Now McNab comes to the forefront with a classical CD, Exquisite, revolving around, of all things, Billy May's trumpet transcription of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. The music is challenging enough for the instrument for which it was written, and the trumpet version is even tougher. But McNab has worked on the score for more than 25 years, and in this recording he plays it as if it were the most idiomatic trumpet concerto in the world.

Well, almost. Tchaikovsky's double and triple stops are impossible on the trumpet, and the brass instrument can't match the violin's variety of tone colors. (Part of the problem here is that McNab's microphone is too close to allow his instrument's sound to bloom.) Aside from the double stops, though, McNab plays the music pretty much as written, violinistic as it is. Something as straightforward on the violin as playing little ornamental notes while crossing the bow quickly from one string to the next translates into a wide and awkward leap on the trumpet, but even here McNab manages to sound more like a musician than a Hollywood stunt man.

Most of his runs are pristine, with an even tone across the wide range. His flashy first-movement cadenza ventures into upper and lower extremes I didn't know were possible on the trumpet (in truth, the bottom note sounds more like gastric distress than music). The second movement showcases McNab's lyrical abilities, and throughout the three-movement work the soloist seems to have mastered the technique of circular breathing; you never hear him pause for a gulp of breath.

Through overdubbing, McNab also plays both solo parts in a transcription of Bach's Concerto for Two Violins. There's a long tradition of reworking Baroque concertos for trumpet, although the source material was usually for oboe rather than violin. Even so, this concerto lends itself more naturally to the trumpet than does the flashy Tchaikovsky. McNab's playing is crisp in spirit, although in practice it's more legato than Baroque specialists might wish.

The disc continues with a little suite called Saloon Music by the accomplished film composer Bruce Broughton (Silverado, Tombstone). Scored for cornet and pit orchestra, the suite has much in common with Jacques Ibert's Divertissement, although Broughton's music is more syncopated and American-sounding.

The disc concludes with Frank Zappa's brash and tricky Be-Bop Tango. McNab toured with Zappa during the latter's Grand Wazoo days, and it's amazing that McNab ever managed to play this difficult piece live. He certainly pulls it off in this studio recording.

Throughout, McNab receives excellent support from a small pickup orchestra, no conductor credited as far as I can tell. If the idea of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto played on the trumpet is not just too freakish for you to wrap your mind around, this disc is well worth your attention. It's apparently available only through McNab's own Web site.


2007 07 18


We are happy to announce that Malcolm McNab will be the in-studio guest on Jim Svejda's Show, Thursday, July 19th, from 7 PM until midnight PST (Pacific Standard Time) on KUSC 91.5 FM in Los Angeles and on the Internet.

Malcolm will be interviewed about his successful career and new CD, EXQUISITE. Jim will also be playing the entire CD throughout the program as well as excerpts from several motion picture sound tracks featuring Malcolm.

To listen to the program on the Internet, please click or go to:

also, Royer Labs has posted a feature page on Malcolm and his new CD, "Exquisite" complete with photos and audio clips. To view click or go to:

For more information please also visit: 



-- info: Charles Ulrich

frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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