Boris Steffen’s interest in playing the trumpet began around the age of two, when according to his parents, he would snap to attention every time he heard one being played. Given that he was not much bigger than the size of a full-sized trumpet, however, Boris had to wait to begin his formal study until the age of nine, when after exploring his grandmother’s attic; he stumbled on the trumpet of his late grandfather, who years earlier had been a professional trumpet player and orchestra leader. Soon thereafter Boris began playing in his elementary school band, where in relatively short-order he became first-chair, and started to perform for weddings and other ceremonial occasions.
Inspired to pursue a career in music while attending the stage-band camp at Shell Lake, Wisconsin, Boris began studying trumpet with Professor Mark McDunn of DePaul University’s School of Music. By the time he was sixteen, Boris was hitting the road on weekends, playing with the ghost bands of Jan Garbor, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey and Billy May. During the week, he frequented Chicago’s near-north jazz scene, playing with the big bands of Dave Remington and studio-great Bobby Christian, with whom he marked his first recording session as a professional musician. During this time Boris also won a national high-school student competition to appear with the President’s United States Navy Band at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, where as guest soloist he performed La Virgen de la Macarena, written by trumpet virtuoso Raphael Mendez.
Boris continued his studies under Mark McDunn at DePaul University’s School of Music, studying to be a classical trumpet soloist. While not in class, however, Boris, along side mentors and trumpet greats John E. Howell (lead with Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Charlie Barnett) and Warren Kime (leader and arranger of Brass Impact), performed as lead/featured trumpet with stage, screen and recording stars including Steve Allen, Paul Anka, Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., Billy Eckstein, Mitzi Gaynor, Rex Harrison, Bob Hope, Michael Jackson, Tom Jones, Liberaci, Henry Mancini, Manhattan Transfer, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minnelli, Red Skelton, Donna Summer, Temptations, Mel Torme, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Andy Williams, Richard Burton, Carol Channing and Lauren Bacall, and for national Broadway productions including Ain’t Misbehavin’, A Chorus Line, Cats, Dream Girls, Eubie, 42nd Street and Dancin’.
Moving to Los Angeles after graduation, Boris continued his trumpet studies with Hollywood trumpet legends John Clyman and James Stamp, while continuing to freelance with groups including the big bands of Bill Holman and Bob Florence and the Irvine Master Chorale. He also appeared in “Hot Stuff”, a nationally televised network special starring Lisa Hartman. Returning to Chicago on the heels of the financial crisis of the moment, Boris studied finance and accounting during the day, played trumpet with society band leader Stanley Paul by night, and in between founded, wrote music for and performed with his own rock group. Boris credits the boundless patience and support of his parents, family, friends, teachers and colleagues throughout. Boris now devotes the daylight hours to being a Principal & Director of Navigant Economics, LLC, in Washington, D.C.