One of today's busiest jazz musicians is also highly respected in the academic world. VOA's Doug Levine introduces us to trumpeter, composer, bandleader and educator Derrick Gardner.

When Derrick Gardner isn't touring the world with some of the biggest names in jazz, he lends his rich soulful horn sound to countless other artists. Gardner's endeavor as bandleader and arranger for his group The Jazz Prophets has yielded two critically-acclaimed CDs, including his latest titled, A Ride To The Other Side.

The rigors of performing can take their toll on young performers, but Gardner found a delicate balance as an Assistant Professor of Jazz Trumpet at the Michigan State University College of Music.  "Teaching has forced me to fine tune and define not only my concepts on teaching the various aspects of jazz, but also my compositional and improvisational voices as well," he says.

Derrick Gardner's improvisational skills have drawn comparisons to trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Clifford Brown. On the track "Lazara," he ventures into Afro-Cuban jazz, a style he developed during his tenure with another jazz icon, Dizzy Gillespie.

Gardner is no stranger to big bands. His career flourished under the direction of saxophonist Frank Foster in the Count Basie Orchestra. As a five-year member of the Orchestra, he contributed to the Grammy Award-winning album, Live At Manchester Craftsman's Guild. He has also worked in Harry Connick, Junior's Big Band, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band led by trumpeter Jon Faddis, and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, as well as with James Moody, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett and Nancy Wilson.

 On "Funky Straight" Derrick Gardner and The Jazz Prophets master the trumpet-trombone-saxophone sound.