Sam Butler grew up in a musical family in Fairhope, Alabama. Since birth, he was exposed to all forms of music. Between having grandparents that are jazz musicians and a father who exposed him to both classic and contemporary jazz icons from a young age, it was natural for Sam began to develop a keen interest in jazz music. He began playing his father’s old trumpet at age 11, and shortly after he began taking lessons with acclaimed trumpet educator Peter Wood. In high school, Sam was selected into Music For All’s Jazz Band of America in both 2017 and 2018, and he won the 2017 Pensacola Jazz Competition. Throughout these years, Sam ran his own bands in the Gulf Coast area and played as a sideman in many others, including being featured as one of the soloists in the Mobile Big Band Society.
Sam began studying at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in 2018, and quickly flourished both as a performer and composer/arranger. He auditioned into the top jazz ensemble as a freshman, was a semi-finalist in the Jazz Division of the 2019 and 2020 National Trumpet Competition, and has played with the Plummer Jazz Sextet, a select group of musicians that performs all original music. Sam has also recorded or performed a half dozen of his own large ensemble compositions and arrangements with various ensembles, and he recorded an album of all original compositions with his sextet “Spoken Thoughts,” which was released in early 2022. Having now graduated from Indiana in May of 2022, Sam is returning to complete his Master’s Degree at the Jacobs School of Music as an Associate Instructor in the Jazz Studies Department.
In addition to being an accomplished performer and composer/arranger, Sam is also an active educator. He has recently been a Teaching Assistant at the Brevard Summer Jazz Institute, where he shared the stage with artists such as Michael Dease, Rodney Whitaker, Sharel Cassity, Brandon Lee, Gregory Tardy, Ulysses Owens, Jr, and more.