Lew Soloff

Lew Soloff is a consummate fixture of the New York jazz scene. His career is rich with legendary sessions and top-notch collaborations. Soloff’s creativity has made him a well-respected artist, and his elegant and poetic signatures are still in high demand. His unique voice is evident in his phrasing, note selections and interpretations of standards. Soloff is a master virtuoso, with a tremendous range and superior technical command. Yet, he has a gift for melody and quietness. Soloff is an expert on trumpet, flugelhorn and harmon mute. He is also known for his work with piccolo trumpet. Soloff’s current engagement schedule provides an opportunity for Soloff to share his music on a variety of platforms. Lew Soloff and The Afro Cuban Ensemble, a return to his roots in Latin music is generating excitement all over New York City. Soloff was mentored by Machito, a well-known Cuban bandleader. The lessons he learned from Machito are now an integral part his repertoire. Soloff continues the Gillespie tradition by blending African-based Cuban rhythms and American jazz. He adds his own unique signature to this ensemble that features timbales and congas as well as keyboards and traditional Cuban vocal harmonies. Soloff says, “This band is one of my favorite. It’s full of beauty and fire, and can go in many directions.” When I was 21 years old, I first arrived in New York and was fortunate to have worked with Machito. He is one of the most outstanding Afro-Cuban bands. Top of it all, the musical director was Mario Bauza, a great Cuban instrumentalist.” The Lew Soloff Quartet is an all-star unit that tours Europe regularly. It features Jean-Michel Pilc (piano), Billy Hart and Francois Moutin on the upright bass. Apart from his work with the Afro-Cuban Ensemble and his quartet, he was also a regular in Carla Bley’s Big Band. He is still a founding member of The Manhattan Jazz Quintet, which has 30 recordings and a loyal following in Japan. The list of alumni of the quintet includes Steve Gadd and George Young, Charnett Mffett, Eddie Gomez and John Pattitucci. They also include Dave Weckl, Peter Erskine (Danny Gottlieb), Victor Lewis, Bill Evans, Bill Evans, Bill Evans, and Bill Evans. Matthews’ Manhattan Jazz Orchestra also includes Soloff, which has nearly 20 albums to its credit. Soloff joined the modern quintet Manhattan Brass to perform a broad repertoire. This group performs classical music by J.S. The group performs Bach, Monteverdi, and Gesualdo as well as newer music by David Dzubay and Daniel Schnyder, as well as jazz material from Wynton Marsalis, Paquito D’Rivera, and Wynton Marsalis. The Manhattan Brass has recently recorded “The Music of David Dzubay” as well as “New York Now”, which features interpretations of “West Side Story” along with pieces by Leonard Bernstein and Marsalis. The Bohuslan Big Band in Sweden, which he had been collaborating with for many years, was able to establish a new relationship. Soloff was invited by the orchestra to perform George Gershwin’s Porgy And Bess. This piece was originally composed by Evans for Miles Davis, one of Soloff’s most important influences. The entire suite was recorded at The Goteborg Concerthouse. It was released in 2009. Soloff is a solo artist with 8 albums. “With A Song in My Heart”, produced by Todd Barkan, Makoto Kimata, is filled with my favourite ballads and it is one of my favorites,” Soloff says. “I was able create a calm atmosphere throughout the sessions. Soloff believes that his collaboration with Ornette Coleman was pivotal in his ability to play the songs “simply and beautifully”. He was a featured trumpet soloist with Coleman on many occasions. Soloff also performed with Coleman and The Kronos Quartet in a commission for trumpets and strings. Soloff also served as the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band’s lead trumpet under Jon Faddis. He was also the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra’s first trumpet for six years. Soloff was born in Brooklyn on February 20, 1944. He was raised in Lakewood in New Jersey, and began studying piano early in his life. His grandfather and uncle had a record collection and Soloff began to take up the trumpet at the age of 10. Soloff recalls being exposed to Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge as a child. He was already a professional musician and had spent his youth playing in hotels and country clubs in New York’s Borscht Belt. He spent one year at Juilliard after graduating from Eastman. There, he was a member of practice bands along with other students like Chuck Mangione. Soloff began his full-time job in the mid-1960s, when the New York City jazz scene was thriving. My association with Machito was what made me a well-known figure in the Latin jazz community when I moved to New York City. The artist says that I also started playing in rehearsal groups, which brought me into contact with such players as Eddie Gomez and Pepper Adams, Duke Pearson, Frank Foster, and Phil Woods. Soloff’s skills in bebop were solidified by jam sessions with Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones. He was already performing with Maynard Ferguson by 1966 and quickly became a regular member of the Joe Henderson/Kenny Dorham Big band. He also joined the Gil Evans Group that year, which he considers his most important affiliation. Soloff recalls that he first met Gil Evans at 22. He was my musical godfather. This creative relationship lasted until Evans’ passing in 1988. Soloff continued his education by joining large bands in the 1960s that included Tito Puente and Clark Terry. Also, he was a member of Eddie Palmieri’s Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band. Soloff’s memorable trumpet solos were a part of the groundbreaking band Blood, Sweat and Tears. From 1968 to 1973, Soloff was an integral member of the band, earning 9 Gold records, a Grammy (1969) for “Record of The Year”, and creating the soaring horn lines in “Spinning Wheel.” After his time with Blood, Sweat And Tears, Soloff showed his exceptional abilities in the studio. His work is featured on many recordings, which is why he is always in high demand. Some of his projects include recordings by Roy Ayers and Bob Belden, George Benson/Quincy Jones (Live At Montreux), Mercer Ellington. Grant Green, Lionel Hampton. Herbie Mann. Tania Maria. Laura Nyro. Jaco Pastorius. Mongo Santamaria. Little Jimmy Scott. Wayne Shorter. Stanley Turrentine. The classically trained jazz musician is however a master at the mic. He has performed in concerts and sessions for some of pop’s most revered figures, including Tony Bennett, Marianne Faithful and Lou Reed. He can be heard on Phillip Glass and Kip Hansrahan recordings, as well as Blues legends John Mayall or Dr. John. Here’s a list of Soloff’s film soundtracks: The Big Lebowski; Lethal Weapon 3; Brighton Beach Memoirs; Carlito’s Way; Coming To America; Meet Joe Black; National Lampoon’s Vacation. Tender Mercies and Maid In Manhattan. He is also a highly respected educator and continues to perform at universities across the country, where he uses the Gil Evans arrangements which have been an integral part of his repertoire over the years. He has been a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music since 1994 and adjunct faculty member of Julliard and New School.

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