post

Bruce’s Bio

First days on the trumpet

It was a fateful day when jazz trumpeter Willie Thomas showed sixth grader Bruce Staelens the trumpet for the first time. Though he was better on the trombone, he knew the trumpet was the one.

Orlando Jazz Festival

Orlando Jazz Festival

After studying at North Texas State with legendary teacher Don Jacoby, Bruce returned to Florida and became a regular on the jazz and freelance scenes. He played with such jazz masters as Elvin Jones, Sam Rivers, Don Cherry and Arturo Sandoval and appeared in concert with Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis and Mel Torme. Among the touring shows he played were My Fair Lady, A Chorus LIne, State Fair and Peter Pan as well as the big bands of Woody Herman, Louis Bellson, Artie Shaw and Jimmy Dorsey.  He and his groups played at clubs and jazz festivals around the state.

With Fred Wesley (James Brown)

With Fred Wesley (James Brown)

From 1990 till 1996, Bruce toured extensively throughout Europe, first with the Kingsnake Blues Caravan and later on the touring company of 42nd Street. He performed at numerous jazz clubs including the Quasimodo in Berlin, the Unterfahrt in Munich and Club Montmatre in Copenhagen. He was a member of the Al Porcino Jazz Orchestra sharing the bandstand with Yugoslav trumpet great Dusko Goykovich.

At Birdland

At Birdland

Bruce moved to New York in 1997, and played in the big bands of Toshiko Akiyoshi, Andrew Hill, Scott Whitfield and Arturo O’Farrill. He can be heard on the Andrew Hill recording “Beautiful Day”, the Scott Whitfield recordings “Live at Birdland” and “Diamonds for Nat” as well as “The Hora Decima Brass Ensemble”.  In addition to Birdland, Bruce has performed at The Blue Note, the Jazz Standard, and the Knitting Factory, and jazz festivals in the NYC area.

"Chicago" orchestra

“Chicago” orchestra

Bruce spent 11 years regularly “making the magic” on Broadway. His credits include Chicago, Wicked, The Producers, The Color Purple, The Boy From Oz, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Ragtime, Annie Get Your Gun, Bells Are Ringing, The Look of Love, Curtains, and Wonderful Town.

band4In 2008 Bruce and his wife, singer Bethany Smith Staelens, moved to Seattle. He leads the Smith-Staelens Big Band which performs at Tula’s the first Wednesday of each month.  He “makes the magic” here, too at the Fifth Avenue and the Paramount theatres on shows like Anything Goes, The Music Man, and Hair. 

Bruce teaches trumpet at Music Works Northwest, where he also serves as Manager of the New School of Jazz

loading