This article about Tim is part of the "Day in the Life" series that the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle runs every Sunday about the towns and villages surrounding Rochester.
(January 22, 2006) — There's something cool about a kid who loves the swing of jazz so much that he will practice it day and night until his parents tell him to quit because his sister is trying to sleep.
And there is something reassuring about a teenager who picks a trombone — not the iest ax in the band — above other instruments and enjoys making it sing and sway to a bluesy tempo or bounce to a John Philip Sousa march.
But cool or not, swing or march makes no difference to 17-year-old Tim Craig. He just loves the sound of a trombone, especially when he's at the mouthpiece of the family trombone and playing jazz.
"My grandfather had it and my dad had it, and now I have it," says Craig, a senior at Gates Chili High School.
"That trombone has more meaningful history to me that any other horn."
Next month, Craig will add a chapter to the family trombone's history when he performs with a youth jazz ensemble at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
He was picked to play lead trombone with 29 high school jazz musicians from across the country.
They're scheduled to perform as a prelude to the televised Grammy ceremonies Feb. 8 and at several events during the week.
For Craig, this is where the countless hours of practice and his love of music pay off.
He will play with some of the most talented young musicians in the country in front of an audience packed with the biggest names in the music business.
He will record a CD with the ensemble at Capitol Recording Studios, and might meet Tony Bennett and Sting while doing it.
And if that were not enough, he will get a seat at the Grammys and perhaps an opportunity to wonder whether he will ever be back up on stage to collect a statue.
"I can't think that far in the future," Craig says.
"I don't see that happening, but I also didn't see this in my future."
But when he thinks of the years to come, he does see a future in music.
Craig sees a career in teaching music, playing his trombone on the side.
Or maybe it will be the other way around.
He wants to attend the Eastman School of Music in the fall, and is auditioning for the school.
The teenager already has choice kindling for a successful music career.
He plays in several bands at the high school and is a member of the Eastman Youth Jazz Ensemble and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Gates Chili High School band teacher Paul Maginn says Craig has been selected to all-county and all-state concert and jazz bands since middle school. Selection to the Grammy Jazz Ensemble places Craig in a national light, he says.
"This selection shows that he is one of the top trombone players in the country," Maginn says.
"There is no doubt about it."
Craig exemplifies how it takes more than raw talent to be a successful musician.
He practices between two and four hours a day.
That's in addition to the time he spends at school and doing homework.
He also is a student of music, especially jazz.
A conversation with him about jazz starts with his influences; they include J.J. Johnson, Robin Eubanks, Chris Potter, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. He refers to them as "cats."
There's also his father, Paul Craig, who plays in a local Dixieland band, and his grandfather, Harley Craig, who died in June. They were his first influences.
Craig's parents are very proud of their son's dedication to music.
"It is his passion," says his mother, Elsa Craig. "I think he lives to play trombone."
When it comes down to it, Craig says it's the sound of the horn that he has grown to love.
"You can do the most with it," Craig says.
"It's the closest thing to the human voice because of the slide and its ability to bend pitches, swooping in and going down."