The New Jazz Age: Trombonist Linda Landis in Her Own Words

Anthony Dominic
Columbus Jazz Orchestra 's lead trombonist Linda Landis

Lead trombonist Linda Landis, in her 10th season in the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, tells us how she fell in love with her instrument and how she found her first audience on the farm where she grew up.

Discovering the trombone

I was in Girl Scouts in the fourth grade. There was a girl in the trombone section in the high school band. The only one. She was one of our assistant troop leaders. So she brought her horn home every Tuesday, and I was always curious as to what was in that case. And then I got to see her play one of the concerts at the school. So when fifth grade rolled around and they said, "What do you want to play?" I said trombone, and that was it. I played that horn all the time. Nobody ever had to ask me to practice.

A captive audience

My dad's favorite story is when I'd go sit on the fence posts and play for the cows. Whatever I knew, whatever would come off the top of my head, I would play. If it was the B-flat scale, that's what I'd play. And Dad was afraid they would get frightened and go through the fence, and we'd be herding them up. But what's funny about cows is music is a great thing for them, because they suddenly congregated in the middle of the barnyard. It didn't scare them at all. They loved it. And I'd be sitting up there on the fence post, and one would come lick my leg, and he'd take one step back, like, "OK, guys, it's cool." It was my first live audience.

On being a female musician

After college, there were a lot of obstacles. Opportunities never presented themselves, where they would automatically present themselves to guys. A lot of bandleaders didn't want girls on the road. They thought they were a source of trouble. Women have to work harder-almost twice as hard to get half as much out of it. When I came to Columbus, gender didn't seem to matter. Having better players mattered more. Everyone is so much more accepting and supportive. Like with "The Lion King." I chose to do "Lion King" over one of our CJO runs in late October. A lot of people were saying, "Man, where's the gal in the band? Is she sick? Where is she?" They miss me when I'm gone.