After 50 year hiatus, 93-year-old Henrico man rekindles lifelong passion for the trumpet

Posted at 11:30 PM, Sep 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-13 23:30:39-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Jim Shaw is a man of many hobbies, the 93-year-old from Henrico is regularly referred to as a renaissance man.

“Yes! That is what they say,” says Jim.

From collecting family jewels to studying wildlife, like hummingbirds, right outside his window, Jim takes deep pleasure in learning lessons from everyday life.

“At my lunchtime they come at the same time,” says Jim of the hummingbirds. “As a matter of fact, sometimes they look through the window. I don’t know if they are looking at me or not. But they will look through the window."

While Jim’s love of learning never stops the WWII veteran appreciates the old - especially in black and white. Jim’s claim to fame was appearing in the March 1944 edition of an American original.

“Have you have been in Life Magazine? Well, I have,” Shaw said.

Back then, the teen trumpeter joined a big band. But marriage, a family of four and career silenced his music.

“Sometime in the 50’s I stopped playing,” Shaw said.

But the brass instrument his first love.

“This is number one this means everything. My parents gave it to me back when money was short. And they didn’t have any money,” Shaw said.

After a half-century, Jim got the itch.

“Oh, I love music.”

A few years ago, he dusted off his beloved trumpet to test his talents.

He hasn’t stopped playing since.

“It took me awhile to get my lip back into shape,” says Jim. “Everyone I see I say ‘Don’t quit. Keep playing. Don’t do like I did because you’ll be sorry when you get older.’”

Jim practices every day.

“It helps my lungs. My doctor says I have 98% efficient lungs. That is pretty good. If I can’t play at a decent level, then I’ll just quit.”

He sharpens his skills by watching Youtube. The seasoned musician sometimes plays to an audience of one, his wife, Dot, of 65 years.

“There is nothing he can’t do. Without my help,” says Dot. “It makes me feel good that he can do it. And I like enjoying hearing him play.”

But Jim grew tired of his solo act, The Reflections Big Band came calling, and Jim is once again trumpeting through the fountain of youth.

Fellow musicians like 16-year-old piano player Jasmine Pitt are taking note.

“He’s got the technique. People at my high school definitely don’t have the technique,” Jasmine said.

Jim’s biggest fan is 87-year-old Leland Webb.

“Jim serves a purpose for me he keeps me from being the oldest person in this band,” Webb said.

Conductor Andy Cortez depends on the senior musician to fill the second trumpet chair.

"Jim amazes me at what he can accomplish on that instrument at his age. He is an asset to the band. He is an inspiration to all of us in the band,” Cortez said.

“No! Its never too late to start anything," Webb said. “I am lucky to be playing with a band of this caliber.”

Forget love at first site, this is true love at second sound.

“I’m not a professional by any stretch of the imagination but I love to play. I do my part and I try,” Webb said.

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