Nick Rossi presents a new project dedicated to the music of Duke Ellington and the maestro’s “small band” repertoire. The Jazzopaters debut performance features:
Nick Rossi – Guitar, Bandleader
Patrick Wolff – Alto Sax, Director
James Dunning – Trumpet
Remee Ashley – Trombone
Nathan Tokunaga – Clarinet
Kamrin Ortiz – Baritone Sax
Rob Reich – Piano
Mikiya Matsuda – Bass
Riley Baker – Drums
In 1936, Duke Ellington began recording smaller, breakaway combinations of musicians from his Famous Orchestra, which by that time was 15 musicians strong. These “small groups” usually consisted of 7 to 9 musicians and focused on many of Ellington’s star soloists, as well as compositions and arrangements unique to the format. Through the end of the 1930s and throughout the 1940s, these recordings became an important part of Ellingtonia, both in terms of jukebox plays and records sold to jazz fans.
A lifelong West Coaster, Nick has spent the past 30 years in San Francisco. An integral part of the international Swing Jazz scene, he has performed throughout the world presenting classic jazz in a stylish and enthusiastic manner. He is also respected as a historian and educator with an emphasis on American music of the 20th Century. He writes for publications such as Acoustic Guitar and the Fretboard Journal. In additional, he has worked on archival projects for Resonance, Fresh Sounds Ace, and RPM Records.
In April of 2023, Nick spoke at the Annual Ellington Conference held in Paris, France. Returning from this experience with the desire to combine his love of Duke’s music, small combo swing, history, and band-leading, Nick began to develop the Jazzopaters. So named in tribute to some of the earliest Ellington Unit small band recordings released under Barney Bigard’s name, they are the only ensemble in the greater Bay Area fully dedicated to this aspect of Duke Ellington’s vast jazz repertoire.