Jazz trumpeter Jim Rotondi certainly isn’t the first person to hear a recording of the legendary Clifford Brown and be profoundly moved by the experience. But he was most assuredly the only one to win first place in the International Trumpet Guild’s 1984 Jazz Trumpet Competition as a result.
As a child from a musical family in Montana, Rotondi began on the piano at age 8, moving to the trumpet four years later. At 14, a Brown recording completely altered Rotondi’s perspective; he was a standout in the music program at the University of North Texas and was ultimately the top trumpeter in the ITG’s ’84 contest.
In 1987, Rotondi headed for New York to become an in-demand session and touring player and teacher (he’s Rutgers University’s Jazz Trumpet Professor and an affiliate faculty member at the State University of New York). He's played with a veritable Hall of Fame collection of players — including Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Charles Earland, Lou Donaldson and Curtis Fuller among them — and has played on more than 70 albums over the past two decades, as well as a dozen CDs by All For One, the Hard Bop sextet he co-founded in 1996.
Hailed by critic Chris Hovan as one of the best trumpeters to emerge from the post-Freddie Hubbard era, Rotondi is also an accomplished bandleader with two renowned groups — his quintet as well as Full House, an electric band featuring pianist David Hazeltine.
Rotondi’s most recent album, The Move, came out under his own name, but his Cincinnati appearance will be as a part of All For One (featuring Hazeltine, saxophonist Eric Alexander, trombonist Steve Davis, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth), which has become one of New York’s most respected Jazz outfits.
Rotondi might not be the most recognizable name in Jazz today, but he's certainly one of the most compelling and consistent players in the genre. When he plays a solo, Clifford Brown smiles.