Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Begian, Jamie (John Charles)

Begian, Jamie (John Charles), composer, guitarist, educator; b. St. Louis, MO, 30 December 1963.  His family (father-Leon, b. 1929 and mother-born Dawn Atamian, 1935; Jamie is an only child) moved to Fairfield, CT in August 1970.  Jamie began guitar lessons at age 13, primarily interested in the blues-influenced rock music of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. 

Jamie spent 1 semester at Berklee College of Music (Fall, 1982) then transferred to the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music in January 1983.  Legendary saxophonist Jackie McLean and the faculty at The Hartt School (most notably guitarist Steve Benson) sparked Jamie's interest in jazz.  Upon completion of his degree (BM in Jazz Performance, 1986) he formed a jazz quartet in 1987, playing a mix of original material and standards.  This group won a local competition and was awarded an opening slot at 1988 The New Haven (CT) Jazz Festival.  He moved to Manhattan, NY in September 1989 to begin his graduate studies at The Manhattan School of Music (MM Jazz and Commercial Music 1992). 

At The Manhattan School, Jamie was greatly influenced by guitarist Rodney Jones and pianist/composer David LaLama.  Jamie's first long-form composition for jazz orchestra, entitled "Weep," was premiered by the MSM Jazz Orchestra in February 1991.  He continued his guitar studies with Sal Salvador (1992-1995) and also became a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop (1993-2002) under the direction of Manny Albam and Jim McNeely.  Jamie was named the recipient of the BMI Workshop's Charlie Parker Award in 2001 for his piece "Fuzzy Math" and was nominated for the same award the previous year (2000) for his piece "Oops!"  He has also studied composition privately with trombonist/composer Bob Brookmeyer.

He formed The Jamie Begian Big Band 1998 to perform his original music for large ensemble.  Performances at The Knitting Factory, The Cutting Room and El Taller LatinoAmericano established the band's unique sound and reputation as one of the most original bands in New York City.  The Jamie Begian Big Band made its international debut at the January 2003 International Association of Jazz Education Annual Conference in
Toronto, Ontario. 

He formed a trio in August 1997 with himself on guitar accompanied by drummer Peter Retzlaff and bassist David Ambrosio.  This trio performed frequently around Manhattan (1997-2002) at The Internet Cafe, K'ah'veh'az, and Merchant's Restaurant. 

Jamie's professional career as a college educator began in when he was hired to conduct the Western Connecticut State University Jazz Guitar Ensemble and teach private lessons; his responsibilities at WestConn (1991-2003+) eventually included teaching Jazz History, Jazz
Improvisation, Jazz Theory, Jazz Arranging and conducting the 17-piece Jazz Ensemble.

Music For String Quartet and Electric Guitar (1992); Full-length CD (1999 - as yet unreleased); Trance (2003)

Contact information: 
(212) 932-2101

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