Skip to main content

Jeff Cressman

Jeff Cressman playing trombone

Courses Taught

Applied Lessons


Santana (2000-2016)

Pacific Mambo Orchestra

Homenagem Brasileira


What is your hometown?

San Francisco, CA

What is your favorite recording?

Dreaming of the Master - Art Ensemble of Chicago (Nice Guys ECM1979).

What are you passionate about outside of music?

The recording arts.

Who were your major teachers?

Phil Hardymon, Bob Szabo, Peter Apfelbaum.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

Diversity is a trombonist's middle name.

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

"Should I be writing this down?"

What was a turning point in your career?

Playing and recording with Tito Puente in 1985 and later with Carlos Santana in 1999.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I have no idea but my guess is that it wouldn't be as rewarding life as the one in music.

What is your daily practice routine?

Always long tones ... then the business of the day which rotates around some Schlossberg, Bach cello suites, Rochut, Charlie Parker, Monk, Hermeto, Jacob do Bandolim...

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be? Why?

Peter Apfelbaum - because it sounds like home, Wayne Shorter - so much music! & Pixinguinha or Bach - they're tied and so different but I can't imagine a world without either. I'll flip a coin when the day comes.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you? Why?

1928 New Orleans, LA. Louis Armstrong made a recording of West End Blues on June 28th. It is a time capsule that inspires me through its strength and sweetness. The epic cadenza intro is a clarion call.

Please list your top awards and distinctions.

Father of Natalie and Julianna Cressman, 3 Grammy awarded recordings (Santana, Pacific Mambo Orchestra) played on several multi-platinum and gold recordings worldwide.

Please list your most important collaborations.

As SFJAZZ Collective recording producer (2004-present), my collaboration with the members and the staff at SFJAZZ. The lifetime of work with Peter Apfelbaum in various bands. Sixteen years in Santana.

Please share a quote about you from the press or a musical icon.

"Jeff's expressive solos on anything with a Caribbean flavor remind me of great ska trombonists like Don Drummond" - Carlos Santana (from The Universal Tone - Bringing My Story to Light 2014).

What recordings can we hear you on?

Entre Amigos - Sandy Cressman (Cressman Music), Luminous Charms - Peter Apfelbaum (Gramavision), Master Timbalero - Tito Puente (Concord Jazz), Shiva Station - Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra (Triloka), Keeper of the Flame - Que Calor (Spirit Nectar).

What is your unrealized project?

The Sideman Project. It will be a gathering of information and a platform for reconnection of band members from past and present bands in the Bay Area. It will help define our musical family tree and serve to bring different generations of musicians together while discovering our unique history here.

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Playing a solo at the Civic Center Auditorium into a vast dark space in the 6th grade.

What is your instrument or department?

RJAM Trombone.


Video URL


Trombonist Jeff Cressman is a native of San Francisco, California. He toured internationally with the Carlos Santana Band from 2000 to 2016 and has recorded several CDs with Santana including the blockbuster “Supernatural”. Jeff has also recorded and toured with such diverse artists as Don Cherry, Lila Downs, Peter Apfelbaum and the Hieroglyphics Ensemble, Trey Anastasio Band, Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra, Tito Puente, Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, John Santos, and the Machete Ensemble, Ray Obiedo, Jon Jang and the Pan Asian Arkestra, Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Francisco Aguabella, Kamikaze Ground Crew, Free Dive, Edgardo Cambon Y Su Candela, Steven Bernstein’s MTO West, Jesus Diaz Y Su QBA and Sandy Cressman’s Homenagem Brasileira.