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Trumpeter John Lamkin II fell in love with jazz music growing up in his hometown, Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was during his formative years that he became enamored by the jazz music pouring out of the many bars and nightclubs that were thriving through out the city. As a child, standing outside of those musical bars and nightclubs, he heard Jimmy Smith, Pat Martino, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Charles Lloyd, Charlie Earland, and Stanley Turrentine live! He also heard Duke Ellington and his band, Count Basie and his band, and several of the other touring big bands live at the famous Steel Pier on the Boardwalk in A.C. While in high school, he began intently listening to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He also began sitting in and jamming with many of the local jazz musicians around town and even frequented and rehearsed with the musicians at the local Negro musician’s union.     


Upon graduation from Atlantic City high school, he entered South Carolina State College (now South Carolina State University) where he earned a degree in Music Education and subsequently taught instrumental music in the South Carolina public school system. Along with teaching, he performed regularly with his wife in several local SC jazz and R&B bands. In the early 70s he became the band director at Edmondson High School in Baltimore City.  There he developed a marching band, a concert band and a jazz band, all of which became quite renowned throughout the city. While teaching at Edmondson, he continued to play regularly in several big bands and combos in Baltimore and Washington DC. He also organized his own band that played a mixture of jazz, jazz/rock, and rhythm and blues, and featured the vocal stylings of his wife Eartha Lamkin. It was also during this period that he recorded his first album titled, HOT, on which he composed all but one of the songs. In addition to his teaching responsibilities and his performing schedule, he found time to earn a Masters in Music Education from Morgan State University.   


In the mid 80s, Lamkin became the Director of Bands and a Lecturer in the Department of Music Education at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  After receiving his Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Maryland College Park, he became the Music Coordinator and the Coordinator of Music Education at UMES.  During his thirty-year tenure there, he developed the UMES Wind Ensemble, the UMES Jazz Ensemble and the UMES Pep Band. Of the three ensembles he directed, the UMES Jazz Ensemble became the most visible, the most sought after and the most celebrated.  


While at UMES, Dr. Lamkin was instrumental in attracting several jazz icons to work and perform with his students. Some of those musicians included Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Robin Eubanks, Onaje Allen Gumbs, Duane Eubanks, Ralph Peterson, Steve Turre, Jon Faddis, Cindy Blackman, Jimmy Heath, Gabrielle Goodman, Jimmy Owens, the late Shirley Scott, the late Stanley Turrentine, and many more. Dr. Lamkin also became a sought-after clinician, guest conductor, festival adjudicator, and was the promoter/organizer of the Eastern Shore High School Jazz Ensemble Festival, staged at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He retired from UMES in 2014 and in 2016 he was conferred “Professor Emeritus” for outstanding service to UMES.

Not only is Dr. Lamkin a professional educator he is a professional trumpet player who is equally proficient in the jazz, classical and sacred genres. His performance credits include performances with The Manhattans, Stephanie Mills, Maurice Hines, Sonny Stitt, Frank Foster, Onaje Allen Gumbs, Keter Betts, Cyrus Chestnut, Harvey Mason, the African American Jazz Caucus Big Band, The Dells and K. C. and the Sunshine Band. Locally, Dr. Lamkin has performed with The Zim Zimeral Orchestra, Baltimore City Big Band, the Lynn Grey Orchestra, the Hank Levy Legacy Orchestra, the Whit Williams Big Band, and the Peabody Jazz Ensemble. Dr. Lamkin has also performed with his own jazz and jazz/rock groups in various nightclubs, concert halls, festivals, parties, and weddings.  With his Sacred Jazz Quintet, he has performed at many churches in the Baltimore/Washington area including; New All Saints Catholic Church, St. Marks on the Hill Episcopal Church, Timothy Baptist Church, Grace Presbyterian, Heritage Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church, Waylon Baptist Church, Epworth Chapel, Waters AME Church, and many more. 

Currently, Dr. Lamkin regularly performs with his "Favorites" Jazz Quintet. Enamored by the 1950s, 60s and 70s jazz quintets led by At Blakey, Horace Silver, Miles Davis and many others, his quintet specializes in presenting a repertoire of "straight ahead" jazz standards and originals. The name "Favorites" refers to “jazz music” that he prefers to play, as well as the many local musicians he selects to perform in his band due to their exceptional musical artistry and depths of friendship. His group serves as a platform for area musicians who yearn, as he does, to play "straight ahead jazz." In 2018, Dr. Lamkin recorded his second album, TRANSITIONS


Dr. Lamkin received the "2014 Jazz Heroes Award" from the Jazz Journalist Association for having a significant impact on jazz music in the Baltimore community, and in 2018 he received the “Giants Among Us Award” from Quincy Philips and Brian Davis for “Significant Contributions to the Music Landscape in Baltimore, MD. Also in 2018, he was selected for inclusion on the Maryland State Arts Council’s (MSAC) Performing Artists Touring Roster.


Dr. Lamkin teaches trumpet privately at Bills Music in Catonsville Maryland, and at the Maryland Music Academy in Columbia Maryland.

Dr. Lamkin is married to Ms. Eartha S. Lamkin, a renowned vocal artist and educator. They have three children, John R Lamkin III, David S. Lamkin and Jocelyn R Lamkin-Thomas, all of whom are married with children. Together they have seven grandchildren.  

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