ERICH TRAUGOTT (trumpeter) was born on May 18, 1928 in Poland, but was brought to Canada (North Battleford, Saskatchewan) when he was just nine months old. He started playing the cornet when he was three years old, on an old horn his father owned, and with the encouragement of both parents, and born with perfect pitch, he was soon playing at levels far beyond his years.
Traugott was still a young boy when the family again relocated to Kitchener, Ontario, where Erich began playing cornet in The Kitchener Boys Band, and got his first paying job playing on Toronto harbour boats and short turn-around cruise ships. He was just 15 when, after meeting up with local musicians including Moe Koffman and Jerry Toth, he got his first job at the beautiful Manoir Richelieu resort hotel near Quebec City, and worked there frequently for years.
He won a scholarship to study with Lloyd Geisler at Baltimore’s famous Peabody Institute of Music, training which landed him a four-year stint playing principal trumpet with the Baltimore Symphony for four years, and a spot on the teaching faculty at Peabody. He returned to Canada in 1952, and was soon immersed in the flourishing studio scene in Toronto, recording advertising jingles on an almost daily basis, and working on nearly all of the major CBC television shows of the time including ‘Wayne & Shuster’ and ‘Front Page Challenge’. He played on some memorable movie scores including ‘Moonstruck’ and ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ (starring Sean Connery) which featured a cornet solo by Traugott at the film’s opening.
He was a member of the Howard Cable Concert Band on countless radio and TV dates, and played live with Cable’s band at the Royal York Hotel’s famed Imperial Room. He worked with Phil Nimmons (the original “Nimmons ‘n’ Nine”) and Oscar Peterson, and was in the Toronto big band that opened at Massey Hall in 1953 with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. He has also worked with Duke Ellington, Nelson Riddle, Henry Mancini, Ron Collier, Lucio Agostini, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Doc Severinsen, Stan Kenton, and a virtual legion of other stars.
Rob McConnell brought Erich Traugott into ‘The Boss Brass’ as his lead trumpet-player in its formative years, and Traugott remained one of the band’s key players for more than three decades. He played with Rob McConnell and ‘The Boss Brass’ in their first “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concert at the Ontario Science Centre on November 5, 1979.