Stahl's professional musical career began officially following his discharge from the Army in 1973. Yet, during his enlistment, he performed as a soloist with The Army Band, held the position of lead trumpet in the "Army Blues" and was principal trumpet in the White House Herald Trumpets. Since his discharge, he has performed as lead trumpet and as a soloist with many of the top bands in America: Woody Herman, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Larry Elgart and Toshiko Akiyoshi, among others. With Rich, he also served as band manager. Stahl has backed up notables like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Jack Jones, Sarah Vaughan, and Englebert Humperdinck. Engagements have taken him through Europe, North Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, Japan, and forty-eight of the fifty states.

In April 1977 Stahl formed his own band, The Dave Stahl Band, and in April of 1987 produced Anaconda, a contemporary pop instrumental album which featured hits like Dick Lowell's arrangements of "Jump (For My Love)", "That's What Friends Are For", and Alan Downey's arrangement of "Saving All My Love For You" as well as original charts with Stahl as trumpet or flugelhorn soloist on most of the cuts.

Stahl has been part of many albums during his career: one album, with Woody Herman, became a Grammy Award winner. In addition, he performed as lead trumpet with Frank Sinatra on an engagement that was recorded and telecast live from Madison Square Garden: "Sinatra: The Main Event."

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