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John D’earth

For many years a beloved faculty member at VCU, jazz trumpeter and composer John D’earth joins us this year as an Artist in Residence: teaching Trumpet and Jazz Trumpet lessons in partnership with Prof. Rex Richardson; ensemble coaching, trumpet-sectional coaching, and occasional concert direction and/or performance with the VCU Jazz Orchestra I in collaboration with Prof. Antonio Garcia; and serving as an Artist in Residence to the wider VCU Jazz community via occasional class visitations and informal mentoring. His residency at VCU is made possible via joint funding from the VCU Department of Music and the VCU Jazz Students Fund.

John D’earth has performed and recorded internationally, appearing on well over fifty CDs, and has worked with Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Tito Puente, Bruce Hornsby, Emily Remler, Bennie Wallace, Eddie Gomez, The George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, The Great American Music Ensemble, Bob Moses, Pat Metheny, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Robert Jospe, Dave Matthews Band, Anthony Wilson, Alan Dawson, Cyrus Chestnut, Dave Liebman, Michael Brecker, Ray Anderson, Marc Johnson, Cecil Bridgewater, Claudio Roditi, Tom Harrell, Bob Berg, Dawn Thompson, David Valentin, Mel Torme, and many others.

He has composed and arranged music for the Kronos String Quartet, The Kandinsky Trio, The Charlottesville Chamber Festival, Bruce Hornsby, The Dave Matthews Band, The University of Virginia Jazz Ensemble, The Great American Music Ensemble, The Charlottesville-Albemarle Youth Orchestra, and The San Diego, Atlanta, Richmond, and Roanoke Symphony Orchestras. Among his original works are the five-movement “Natural Bridge,” commissioned by the Kandinsky Trio; the four-movement “Suite Rakalam” for string septet, trumpet, and drum set, commissioned by the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival; and the two-hour score for five instruments performed live with Mernau’s 1926 silent film masterpiece, “Faustus.”

D’earth has recorded as a leader for Vanguard Records, ENJA Records, DoubleTime Jazz, and his own Cosmology label. Currently residing in Charlottesville, Virginia, he is a co-founder of the Free Bridge Quintet; is the music director for the Thompson D’earth Band with his wife, vocalist and composer Dawn Thompson; and leads the Charlottesville Swing Orchestra, the jazz/poetry project, and his own quartet/quintet. As the Director of Jazz Performance at the University of Virginia, he teaches improvisation, jazz trumpet, and directs the UVA Jazz Ensemble.

Born in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1950, he studied with saxophonist Boots Mussulli (who performed with Stan Kenton, Charlie Ventura, and Teddy Wilson); John Coffey (principal trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra); and arranging with Thad Jones. He attended Harvard University and later moved to New York City, where he studied with Carmine Caruso, Vince Penzarella, and Richie Beirach. As a jazz musician and composer D’earth is interested in the nexus of composition and improvisation and in working with musicians who are committed to pushing their own boundaries in both of these areas. His career in music is documented in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazzby Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler (Oxford Press). A dedicated educator, at one point he was teaching at James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University, St. Anne’s Belfield School, the Tandem School, and the University of Virginia, along with playing four nights a week in Richmond with the band Secrets and teaching private lessons.