Lead trumpeter Charles Wesley Orr was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1943. He began playing trumpet at age ten. He continued playing trumpet in the band at Whitehall Yearling High School.

Wes’ father discouraged him when he was considering making music his profession, but at age 17 Wes played his first gig with the Johnny Rogers Big Band in Washington Court House, Ohio. The gig paid $10 and was the beginning of Wes’ professional career.

After his high school graduation, Wes continued his education at Capital University. He received his B.A. in Music Education. During his education at Capital, he traveled to Philadelphia to study with one of the nation’s finest brass instructors, Dr. Donald S. Rhinehart, principal trombonist in the Philadelphia Orchestra. Dr. Rhinehart changed Wes’ life be altering his approach to trumpet playing.

While at Capital, Wes met his future wife, Roberta (Bobbi). They both played in the concert band, orchestra, and marching band. Shortly after graduation from Capital, they married. Wes continued his education by attending The Ohio State University where he received his M.A. in Music Education. Wes taught in Columbus Public Schools for 31 years. He also taught in the Reynoldsburg City Schools and taught trumpet at Otterbein College. While teaching at Otterbein, he co-directed the Jazz Band.

Wes was also the choir director at Church of the Redeemer United Methodist for 14 years!

In the 1970s, Wes and Ray Eubanks wanted to form a big band consisting of the best jazz musicians in the area – what would become the Jazz Arts Group. The band is still in existence today as the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Wes has played lead trumpet for the group since its inception.

Wes has played in many bands through the years. These include the Al Waslon Orchestra, the Ernie Krivda Fat Tuesday Big Band, the Chad Rager Groove, the Ju Ju Bees Rhythm Review, and the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. Throughout the years, Wes has played with many noteworthy musicians including: Paul Anka, Bob Hope, Barry Manilow, Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Lewis, Lena Horne, Doc Severinsen, Natalie Cole, Maynard Ferguson, Jiggs Whigham, Ken Peplowski, Rosemary Clooney, Carmen Bradford, Maureen McGovern, Jack Jones, and Wes’ favorite, Clark Terry. In recent years, Wes toured for 10 weeks with Ken Peplowski’s Big Band. He also toured with the Broadway musical Jersey Boys. Wes was the Secretary-Treasurer for Local 103 Federation of Musicians for several years. He was also inducted into the Columbus Senior Musicians’ Hall of Fame in 2003.

Family is very important to Wes. He and Bobbi have been happily married for over 45 years. They have 3 children (Craig, who was a music educator for several years; Christi, who teaches swing dancing all over the world and has won the European Swing Dance Competition; and Cathy, who plays violin and sings for the Lord). As of now, they have 6 grandchildren (they all sing, there’s a drummer, a guitar player, a dancer – but no trumpet players yet!). The grandchildren are the light of Wes’ life and bring him great joy.

Wes is grateful and honored to have been in bands with some of the most talented musicians in the country right here in central Ohio. He is very thankful for his God-given musical talent and ability to play the trumpet and hopes to continue making music for a long time!

Wes Orr