A Kansas native who now lives in New York City, Jim Seeley is an acoustic-oriented post-bop/hard bop trumpeter who is hard-swinging but can be quite lyrical and melodic at times--so lyrical, in fact, that he sometimes makes the trumpet sound like a flugelhorn (which he has occasionally played as a second instrument). Seeley, who emerged in the ‘90s but gets a lot of stylistic inspiration from the hard bop and post-bop of the ‘50s and ‘60s, has been greatly affected by the Clifford Brown/Fats Navarro school of big-toned trumpeters. Brown and Navarro are obvious influences on Seeley's trumpet playing, as are Brown-influenced players such as Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan and Woody Shaw. But even though Seeley is known for a big-toned approach, the Midwesterner has also learned a thing or two from more reserved, understated Cool School trumpeters like Miles Davis and Chet Baker--and there are times when he brings to mind Art Farmer (a recognizable trumpeter/flugelhornist who occupied a middle ground that was somewhere between the hard-swinging aggression of Hubbard, Shaw and Morgan and the subtlety and understatement of Davis and Baker).
As a young adult, Seeley left the Midwest and moved east to Boston to study at the famous Berklee College of Music. After leaving New England, he moved to Los Angeles, where he spent three years in drummer Dick Berk's sextet. That gig was followed by a stint with Ray Charles' band (where he played alongside fellow trumpeter Johnny Coles). Seeley left Los Angeles for New York City in 1990; since then, he has been prominently featured in bandleader/composer Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz at Lincoln Center program's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (both of which illustrated Seeley's ability to combine jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms). Seeley was featured on albums by O'Farrill, guitarist Barry Wedgle and trumpeter Armando Rodriguez (co-founder of the Latin Jazz Orchestra) in the ‘90s and was equally busy as a sideman in the early 2000s (in addition to leading various New York City-based groups of his own). In 2003, Seeley teamed up with pianist Arturo O'Farrill (Chico O'Farrill's son) to record a CD titled The Jim Seeley/Arturo O'Farrill Quintet, which Zoho Music (a small, independent East Coast label) gave a January 2005 release date; all of the songs on the album are Seeley originals.