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Offering up a fresh and exhilarating vibe withhis full length debut Nothing Between Us,trumpeter and composer Sam Hankins drawson a powerhouse resume as a music educatorand R&B/jazz sideman that includes multipleawards as a middle school Band Director andperformances with numerous legendary artists,including Al Jarreau, Clark Terry, The O’Jays, TheTemptations, The Dells, The Impressions, ArethaFranklin and the Glenn Miller Big Band.Armed with an impressive array of degreesand multi-faceted musical credentials, themulti talented Oklahoma born and raised,Chicago based musician is widely recognizedin educational circles for his tenure as BandDirector at Edison Middle School, where he lednumerous ensembles from 1995 through 2006.Hankins led a struggling band program withlimited participation into one of the premiermiddle school instrumental music programsin the United States. During his first year asBand Director, he led two bands to place first indivision ratings in the State Music Competitions.The program subsequently earned extensiverecognition as one of the premier middle schoolband programs in Illinois and nationwide bywinning numerous Division I ratings, State andNational awards and recognitions.


During this time, Hankins was invited to be a Guest Conductor forJazz and Concert bands as well as a guest soloist. He also founded,organized and directed The East Central Illinois Jazz Institute, asummer jazz camp of approximately 20 students from throughouteast-central Illinois. In 1998, he received The White House Letterrecognizing the Edison Middle School Band Program signed byHillary Rodham Clinton.


A prolific composer, Hankins had composed over 150 pieces beforehe took his wife’s advice and began pursuing the next phase of hisdiverse career, as a solo recording artist. He laid the groundworkfor Nothing Between Us by releasing Dream Catcher, a compilationof his catalog of music in every genre from smooth jazz and danceto techno. Building up a supportive network of fans via socialmedia, he blended old school R&B/funk with cutting edge grooves,dynamic melodies and wild brass sizzle on the new project, which isproduced by bassist Paul Richmond and features Zorn McGuire ondrums. Hankins has already received airplay on numerous internetoutlets, including the GHP Radio Network and LUTG Radio.


“From my many years of working with different producers andin various studios, I’ve learned what people like to listen to, andgenerally they love music that keeps things simple,” says Hankins.“I certainly had a lot of material that was artsy and complicated butfor my first urban jazz project, my goal was to create tracks thatpeople can enjoy that I personally felt good about. I admire popularcontemporary trumpet players like Chris Botti and Rick Braun, but Itake a different approach with my horn that makes my vibe uniqueto the genre. As a composer, I always want to write songs that upliftpeople’s spirits and make them happy, or get them thinking aboutthings. Because it mixes R&B and jazz, Nothing Between Us really getsme back to my roots as a musician.”

While he is still putting things together as a solo live performer, withnumerous musicians he has worked with on eager standby, Hankinshas enjoyed a long history of doing gigs with many legendary jazzand R&B artists—from Clark Terry to Al Jarreau and Aretha Franklin.Over the years, while maintaining an active educational career, hehas played with funk bands, circus bands, cruise ship ensembles anddifferent “combos”.

“Sam Hankins is an brilliant trumpeter who stretches himselfwithin the genre of smooth jazz. His tone sometimes hints atChuck Mangione while his solos are generally more explorativethan that of Chris Botti and Rick Braun, even when he caressesmelodies. On his latest CD, Nothing Between Us, Hankins plays all ofthe instruments in most cases, including several brass instruments,keyboards and percussion, taking an effective vocal on the lovesong “I Can Be.” Throughout the project, Hankins displays theinfluences of R&B and funky jazz. He has a knack for coming up withmemorable and catchy riffs and, like the late Grover WashingtonJr, he is capable of playing lengthy solos over fairly simplebackgrounds that never lose one’s interest. His ten originals eachhave their moments. “Nothing Between Us” features some powerfultrumpet playing. “See Me” finds Hankins playing muted a la MilesDavis while the ensembles build in density and intensity. One canimagine the rhythmic piece “Reach For Me” being sung someday.“Give It A Try” and “You Should Have” in particularly features SamHankins at his best, showing a lot of personality, color and wit inhis solos while carving out his own place in contemporary jazz.

— Scott Yanow, author of The Jazz Singers, The Great Jazz Guitarists,Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76


You can listen to the best of Sam Hankins on our Featured Artists Airtime Program on

Mondays, Thursday, Saturday and Sundays at 18h CET on OneLuvFM

Nothing Between us

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