World-renowned trumpet player Longineu Parsons says out of all the awards he’s received for his talents, teaching at Florida A&M has been the most rewarding. He has performed all over the world, receiving awards of high musical achievement in jazz music, but they fail by comparison.
Parsons has been a professor at FAMU for 11 years. Teaching was not something that was planned for Parsons. A performance was his main focus until FAMU approached him asking him to come home.
He is a distinguished trumpet player, a composer, a Florida A&M music educator and the founder of Tribal Disorder recordings.
He was born and raised in Jacksonville, Fla., where his love for jazz music started to grow. With an influence from his parents he started to learn what real music was. At a young age, he began to distinguish between the “good music,” which was jazz, and music that is considered commercial radio or as Parsons put it, “that other stuff.”
In school he wanted to learn about jazz. He was interested in the backgrounds of jazz icons and the “rich history” that molded jazz music. Parsons found himself wanting to be a part of that history. In middle school he learned to play the trumpet and started his journey to becoming a skilled cornetist.
Parsons took his music to new heights receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from FAMU, a Master’s from the University of Florida and has studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has been playing the trumpet for 49 years.
With his musical talent he has found himself in the presence of great music legends from Cab Calloway to Philly Joe Jones.
Starting out with the show “Bubbling Brown Sugar” allowed him to travel the world and learn how music goes beyond national and racial boundaries. He has traveled to more than 30 countries. Through those experiences, he learned that music is stronger than language and culture. He is inspired by it. Music is his life.
“It’s the reason I bother to get out of bed in the morning,” Parsons said. “It’s the reason I bother to continue to survive in the world. It is everything.”
Parsons sees jazz as the highest art form, requiring the most preparation to even be a part of the genre. His determination and love for the music is what pushes his career.
“It’s such a strong part of me that it’s something I have to do,” Parsons said. “I don’t really have a choice.”
Parson’s infatuation with music led him to start his own recording label. He wanted to have complete musical, intellectual, and business freedom. Tribal Disorder recordings reflect Parson’s interest in bringing many cultures together as one through music. Tribal refers to the ability of all the different cultures of people to unite and disorder refers to the conflicts humans have with each other. The label is international.
“What we do is play music of various cultures coming together as a metaphor for how humans need to learn to live,” said Parsons.
Because of his students, he has found a newfound love in teaching.
“I only do it for FAMU,” he said. “Without FAMU, I wouldn’t be interested.”
The most rewarding is having his former students come back and tell him how much he affected their future in music.
Schelvin Robinson, former FAMU student, said that without Parson’s he would not be the performer he is today. Under the teachings of Parsons he was able to pursue music at the University of Florida.
“Professor Parsons is very adamant and passionate about how he teaches,” Robinson said. “I appreciated that the most.”
Robinson worked with Parsons for about six years strengthening his musical abilities.
He teaches his students to love what they do in order to succeed. The lifestyle takes dedication and work with no guarantee of a reward. Parsons has received his award though.
“When students come back and thank me for kicking their butts the way I do, it’s my trophy. To have a positive influence on people’s lives is my reward.”