Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Rossi, Marc (William)

Rossi, Marc (William), composer, pianist, and educator; b. New Haven, CT, 13 June 1952. Marc was the only child of parents William Sebastian Rossi (born 1912) and Christine (Giaquinto) Rossi (born 1920).  As a child the family lived in New Haven, East Haven, and then moved to Hamden--a New Haven suburb. 

Rossi began piano lessons with his maternal grandfather (Eugene Giaquinto) at age four, and studied with him until his death when Marc was eight.  Marc then continued studies at the renowned Neighborhood Music School in New Haven with Helen Schaffrenack (of NY) and George Zybrywski.  He also studied guitar between ages of 13-15 with Joe Tinari.  During this time he began to play in rock bands, playing both organ and guitar.  At age 15 Rossi resumed classical piano lessons with William Duffy of Yale.  At this time, Rossi also bought a sitar and began to a life-long association with Indian classical music. At 16 Rossi went to Windsor Mountain School in Lenox MA, for his junior and senior years in High School.  He continued classical piano lessons with organist and Bach specialist Robert Blafield of Lenox, and pianist Betty Maby, of Pittsfield (MA). He also played lead guitar in blues-rock bands on campus.  At this point Rossi began to study jazz piano and to compose.  He was then accepted at The Eastman School of Music (Rochester NY) as a composition major, and began college there in Sept. 1970. While at Eastman, Rossi studied composition with Joseph Schwantner and Samuel Adler, and classical piano with Jared Bogardus. He continued to explore jazz , avant-garde, and electronic improvisation on his own. Feeling the need for a change, Marc left Eastman after Two and a half years in mid 1973.  For the next two years Marc played in a fusion band in Rochester, explored Indian music informally, then in 1975 transferred to the New England Conservatory in Boston (NEC). Rossi entered NEC as a Third Stream major, but immediately switched to Jazz Composition.  He received his bachelor's in 1978, having studied piano with Jaki Byard, Composition with William Thomas (Tom) McKinley, Lydian Chromatic Concept with George Russell, ensemble with Jimmy Giuffre, and sitar with Peter Row.  Rossi stayed at NEC on to earn his Masters in Composition, studying privately with William Thomas McKinley, graduate composition seminar with Donald Martino, and advanced jazz studies with George Russell and Jimmy Giuffre.  He received his masters in 1980, and this was followed by an additional year of private study in composition and jazz piano with Tom McKinley. In his final semester as a grad student, Jimmy Giuffre hired Rossi to play synthesizer and electric piano in his professional group--the first pianist Jimmy had hired since Paul Bley, following years of piano-less groups.  Rossi stayed with Jimmy for three years, touring all over the east coast and Europe, and playing such venues as Jazzmania, Saratoga, and the Montreaux, North Sea, and Berlin Jazz festivals.  He also as contributed an original composition--Other Point of View, to Giuffre's book. In 1983, George Russell hired Rossi for his Living Time Orchestra (LTO). Rossi toured domestically with the LTO from 1986-1992, playing such venues as the Smithsonian, The Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, Sweet Basil's in NYC, Wolftrap, and others. During this time, Rossi also continued to gig around Boston with jazz and funk groups.

Rossi taught at Tufts University from 1980-85, and was a member of the NEC Extension division faculty from 1980-88. In 1989 Rossi became a full time faculty member of the Berklee College of Music, teaching in the Piano and Jazz Composition departments.  He remains to this day, and is currently an Associate Professor. Rossi's concurrent career as a composer began to garner attention.  In 1985, his From The Folds of a Dream---a Concerto for sitar and chamber ensemble was premiered by sitarist Peter Row and NuClassix.  His first orchestral work, Overture Fantasia, was premiered by SinfoNova in Boston's Symphony Hall, in 1988.  During the 1990's Rossi had many works premiered and recorded.  His orchestral work Negru Voda (Black Water) was recorded by The Silesian Philharmonic in Katowice, Poland, in 1994, and  Moon -Mirror, Denying The Abyss was recorded by The Czech Radio Symphony of Prague, in 1999, following performances is Boston's Symphony hall and Prague's Dvorak Hall. In addition, Rossi has had several multi-movement solo piano works recorded and performed by renowned concert pianist Jeffrey Jacob, on New Ariel Recordings. Other classical performers who have played Marc's music including The Arden String Quartet, flautist Michael Finegold, sopra no Noune Karapetian, pianist Cameron Grant, 'cellists Raphael, Popper-Keizer and Emmanuel Feldman, to name a few. During the 1990's Rossi was also very active as a jazz composer and performer. As a member of the Robert Moore Quartet. Marc has also been a longstanding member of Stan Strickland and Ascension, and co-produced Stan's first CD.  Ascension played all over the Easy Coast, and also toured Spain.  Rossi's own group is The Marc Rossi Group. Rossi co-led and co-composed music for The Row and Rossi Project--Raga-jazz Explorations, with sitarist/guitarist and NEC Provost Peter Row, from 1995-99, with numerous performances in the Boston area. Rossi also performed with the world music group Natraj and has co-written music for it with saxophonist/leader Phil Scarff.  In 1996, Rossi produced and arranged a CD of songs written by Rwandan musician Ignace Ntirishwamaboko, a refugee of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Several were selected for a Berklee compilation CD, with Gary Burton as its Executive Producer. In addition, Rossi was the subject an article in Berklee Today in 1999 titled "A Holistic Approach, that discussed Rossi's inclusive approach to music achievements. Rossi has composed numerous works for The Berklee Faculty Jazz Orchestra since 1991, some of which are highly innovative.  His piece Why Bosnia? (The Final Solution 1990's Style) was premiered in 1994, featuring violin soloist Matt Glaser. The Joy of Space was premiered 1995, and featured trombone soloist Phil Wilson.  In 1999, Jazz Impressions of a Kriti #1, for Carnatic Guitar and Jazz Orchestra was premiered, and featured South Indian guitarist Prasanna.  This work combined classical South Indian ragas and Kriti form with jazz language.  In 1991, Rossi presented this work at the Ethnomusicology and Emerging World Music Market Conference, in Venice Italy.  In 2002, Marc returned to Italy to presenting a lecture titled  "The Miles Davis University:  A survey of Progressive Jazz from 1969 To The Present," at the Universita della Musica in Rome. The lecture was followed by a concert of Rossi's music, with him leading an Italian group that included saxophonist Angelo Schiavi. In 2003 Rossi's solo 'cello work Blues Among Us received it's European premier on the "Mirror of Time" new music Festival in Paris, by 'cellist Felix Simonian, after several American performances. The piece was also performed in St. Petersburg Russia in April 2003. Rossi remains very active as a composer, a jazz and improvisational keyboardist, world musician, and educator.  He is planning a new CD with The Marc Rossi Group, and continues to perform with Stan Strickland and Ascension, and Living Geometry.  He also is a member of the Boston based "Just In Time Composers and Players" group, and a full-time Associate Professor at Berklee.

We Must Continue (1996); Ben Schwendener and Marc Rossi: Living Geometry (2002);
As sideperson:
George Russell's Living Time Orchestra: African Game (1987/1990) So What (1987/1991); Robert Moore Quartet: Modes for a Moor (1991); Stan Strickland and Ascension: Stan Strickland and Ascension (1993); Michael Taylor Group: Steppin' Into the Moment (1996); Symbiotic: The Jazz Samba Sessions (compilation) (2001)
As arranger/producer:
"Bizura Na Tuzura," "I'm Lonely,": Ignuce Ntirishwamaboko (Fulbright Scholarship student): Makin' Tracks: A Compilation of Berklee Student & Faculty Music (Gary Burton, Executive Producer)
As classical composer:
"Negru Voda":Silesian (Poland) Philharmonic Orchestra, Jerzy Swoboda, conductor: MMC New Century Volume VI (1996);"Three Jazz Sutras": Jeffrey Jacob, pianist: Contemporary American Eclectic Music for the Piano, Vol. 3 (1996); "Blues Among Us": Just In Time Composers and Players: In Concert (2002); "Moon Mirror, Denying the Abyss": Czech Radio Symphony, Vladimir Valek, conductor: A View from Charles Bridge (2003); "Three Jazz Sutras": Jeffrey Jacob, pianist: Contemporary American Eclectic Music for the Piano, Vol. 6 (2003)

Radio and television broadcasts:
Boston MA:
Chronicle television documentary piece on Express Yourself, a performance project with Stan Strickland and Ascension working with emotionally disturbed children.  Sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.  WCVB-TV (ABC affiliate), June 2002.
Moon-Mirror, Denying the Abyss played in its entirety on Richard Knisely's show, Classical Performances, in a program dedicated to contemporary classical composers.  WGBH-FM, March 2001.
Performance with Balla Tounkara group, live radio broadcast.  WERS-FM, February 2000.
Interview with Eric Jackson.  WGBH-FM, March 1997.
Radio appearance on Gyroscope, WERS-FM. May 1997.
Appearance with Stan Strickland and Ascension.  WGBH-FM, November 1993.
Live television broadcast of Stan Strickland and Ascension performance at Steppin' Out event, World Trade Center, Boston.  WGBH-TV, December 1993.
Appearance on Eric Jackson show with Robert Moore Quartet.  WGBH-FM, 1990.
Appearance on Morning Pro Musica with Northwind.  Live performance of contemporary improvisatory music.  WGBH-FM, February 1990.
Interview with Tony Cennamo. WBUR-FM, 1988.
Appearance with Jimmy Giuffre 4 on Steve Elman's jazz show.  WBUR-FM 1982.
Live broadcast of improvisation with bassist Bob Nieske.  WBUR-FM, 1982.
Worcester MA:
Interview with Joe Zupan, WICN-FM.  January 2002.
Amherst MAL
Early chamber works, including The Flute of Interior Time, a setting of Persian poet Kabir for chamber ensemble.  WFCR-FM, 1981
New Haven CT:
Faith Middleton Show. WNPR-FM, Connecticut Public Radio, October 1996.
Malmo, Sweden:
Live radio and television broadcast with Jimmy Giuffre 4, July 1982.
Paris, France: Live radio and television broadcast with Jimmy Giuffre 4, July 1982.

F. Bouchard, Forging a Fresh Vernacular, Down Beat 10/97

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