As far back as I can remember, I have always been a bit of a showman. Professionally, I’ve been at it for over 20 years as a trumpeter/composer/educator, but I’ve always had a passion for touching people’s lives through music and performance all whilst making sure I give back as much as I was given. Few things give me greater joy than to discover that somebody’s day was uplifted after hearing my original music. Sometimes it’s the “leave-it-all-on-the-stage” energy I invested into that day’s show or lesson that moved another’s spirit. Both make it all worthwhile. I was fortunate as a kid that my folks always had music on in the house and were endlessly supportive of my artistic growth. I received invaluable guidance from local legends such as Bill Katz, Peggy Rakas, Roy Fortunato, and Carl Fisher (of Billy Joel fame) to name a few, but it was my chance encounter with Jon Faddis at 12 years of age that set the foundation for my mindset and life direction. I would go on to get my Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Trumpet from SUNY Purchase and my Master’s in Jazz Composition from Manhattan School of Music. I had many extraordinary teachers during that time such as Mike Abene, Rich DeRosa, Dave Liebman, and Todd Coolman, and the personal mentorship of Jon Faddis, Ray Vega, Justin DiCioccio, and Hal Galper sowed the seeds for much of the success I have today.
My performances have led me to some far-off places such as Guatemala and the Bahamas and more local spots, namely Carnegie Hall, Charlotte’s Speakeasy, Birdland (with the Grammy-Award winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Arturo O’Farrill), the Jazz Loft, and Blue Note. I’ve had the rare honor of sharing the stage with notables such as Bernard Purdie, Nadia DiGiallonardo (Musical Director for the Sara Bareilles Broadway hit Waitress), and Clark Terry. Performing the 50th anniversary performance of HAIR at Lincoln Center with the Tony Award winning cast under the direction of Diane Paulus, who was named in 2014 as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world was a life-altering experience of the best kind. I have recorded with Lawrence (on their first album Breakfast), Circus Mind (on Joy Machine), and Nonstop to Cairo (on KAI) in addition to working on numerous individual projects for local artists. I perform regularly with The NyMBVS 5, Nocturne (of Stage39 Productions), Latinology, Deep Pockets, La Sonora 495, Vinyl Revival, Nonstop to Cairo, the Interplay Jazz Orchestra, and the Swingtime Big Band under the direction of Steve Shaiman.
Helping bands enhance their show through the organization of horn sections (usually trumpet, sax, and trombone) and the development of customized charts is a big part of my day-to-day. Original bands in particular require close collaboration that involves trust and nuance because when it comes to other people’s music, one must treat it as their own. You can hear the fruits of that labor with Paradigm, the Toby Tobias Ensemble, and Nonstop to Cairo and I welcome any other bands or individuals who wish to incorporate horns into their projects to reach out.
Justin DiCioccio oft told me during our times together that “you can make a life in music!” I certainly have, but it was not without struggle. After graduating in 2007 but already burnt out, I sought work outside of the performing arts, serving a number of years as a barista for a major coffee company and eventually transitioning into banking. It took the support of many friends and associates to remind me that the gift I’d been given as an artist and composer was not a gift to be hoarded. They helped and encouraged me to rekindle the creative spark that now burns as brightly as ever. In 2018 I left the corporate world to become a full-time musical artist and within days was given steady gig work with Deep Pockets. It’s been a nearly 4-year journey and I haven’t once had to look back. In 2019, in defiance of the pandemic, I composed a song a day over two significant stretches of time and subsequently started The NyMBVS 5, a band dedicated to performing original music that just makes ya feel good. And students! I’ve got a whole bunch of them of all ages and levels of development, and it is my pleasure to see them all achieve personal and artistic success in ways that often can’t be quantified on paper. That said, it doesn’t hurt to say that quite a few of my students have gotten perfect scores at NYSSMA, one made All-State this year, one went to college for Environmental Science and tried out for and won a seat on the school Jazz Band despite not majoring in music, and most of my students have been with me for years. As I tell all my “kids,” music and the arts are woven into the tapestry of my life. It all connects. I hope you feel that in these words, and I KNOW you’ll feel it when you catch a live performance!