Born: June 20, 1984 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
Twenty-seven year old rising trumpeter and composer Josh Rzepka has been described as “a musician who doesn’t believe in limits” by the Tribune Chronicle, and as being “gifted” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He has been heralded not only for his jazz playing and composing, but for his classical trumpet playing as well.
With his second jazz album Into the Night, he follows up his debut classical CD, Josh Rzepka: Baroque Music for Trumpet (2010) and his critically acclaimed debut jazz CD Midwest Coast (2009).
Quickly establishing himself as one of the most versatile upcoming performers in classical and jazz music, Josh has performed across the country at famed venues including Severance Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Cleveland’s NightTown, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Knitting Factory in NYC. As a soloist Josh has presented recitals and concerts ranging from the baroque, to modern, to original jazz.
In 2011 Josh was recognized by the Akron Area Arts Alliance with their 2011 Arts Alive! Rising Young Star award. This biennial award was a big honor for Josh and he was thrilled to receive recognition from his home town of Akron.
When you ask Josh which kind of music he enjoys performing the most, �� classical or jazz �� he’ll tell you, “As far as I am concerned, there are only two kinds of music: good and bad. Personally, I like playing good music. As soon as you start to classify music any other way, I think you miss out on its true spirit.”
In 2009 Josh decided to take a major step in his career, he would record and release a jazz and classical solo CD within the same year �� on his own. He knew only a few certainties that the jazz CD would be comprised of all originals, that the classical CD would be with a chamber orchestra, and that they would be recorded and produced in NE Ohio. Josh said “I feel very fortunate to be able to call NE Ohio my home, and the musicians here are truly first class. I didn’t even consider recording anywhere else. I can use local talent, and produce first rate recordings”.
The first recording made and released was his debut jazz CD Midwest Coast, an album of all original music that has been called “a winning, listenable recording debut” and “an impressive display of chops and taste” by Cleveland SCENE. It was recorded in the summer of 09’ in legendary SUMA Studios in Painesville, Ohio. Besides Rzepka’s “cool, relaxed warm tone” �� Akron Beacon Journal, Midwest Coast features some of Cleveland’s finest jazz musicians �� including Peter Dominguez, Jackie Warren and Ron Godale, all established veterans of north-east Ohio’s jazz scene. Since its release, Midwest Coast has garnered significant national radio airplay reaching the #33 spot on the JazzWeek chart, #15 on CMJ Jazz, and #2 on Roots Music Report Jazz, a reflection of airplay on over 100 separate radio stations in almost every major market in the country.
In the winter and spring of 2010, while finishing up his MM at Boston University, Josh recorded his debut CD of baroque concerti in NE Ohio with a chamber orchestra, Josh Rzepka: Baroque Music for Trumpet. This recording features music by Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Phillip Telemann, Handel, Henry Purcell, Giuseppe Torelli, and Johan Baptist Neruda. The CD was recorded in Cleveland and Oberlin by Cleveland based multi Grammy ® award winning recording and production company, 5/4 productions. It features Rzepka as a soloist playing concertos and solo pieces backed by twelve strings and a harpsichord.
For his undergraduate, Josh is a graduate of the renowned Oberlin Conservatory of music with a double major in classical and jazz trumpet performance.
In the summer of 2011 Josh went back into the recording studio to record his second jazz album of all original compositions. The result was Into the Night, an album that again features the talents of pianist Jackie Warren, bassist Peter Dominguez and drummer Ron Godale. In addition, the album features fellow Oberlin Alum trombonist Andy Hunter, and local saxophonist Steve Kortyka. Into the Night was recorded in the brand new recording studio in Oberlin’s Bertram and Judith Kohl Building �� the new home for jazz in Oberlin. It was recorded by the multi Grammy ® award winning recording and production company 5/4 productions.
Awards:2011 AAAA Rising Young Star/Artist (Akron area arts alliance).
Rzepka, who plays with a cool, relaxed warm tone... - Malcolm X Abram: Akron Beacon Journal
...There are pretty ballads, a few bossa-novas...and some straight-ahead swinging bop such as the title tune, which should get jazz lovers' toes tapping. - Malcolm X Abram - Akron Beacon Journal
Rzepka displays a refreshing grasp of melody and economy of phrase, and, in the singularly lovely Song for a New Year, he expresses emotional depth beyond his 25 years. - Carlo Wolff - Cleveland SCENE
Playing a muted trumpet can be a bit of a tightrope act. You want to capture the smoky mystery that sound evokes, but overdo the growl and the waa-waa and it risks becomes clichéd. Josh Rzepka nails the right balance with his mute creating the blue mood that perfectly serves pianist/singer Harry Bacharach's new date Velvet Tango. Rzepka's open horn playing is clean and clear calling to mind the best of later day Chet Baker, in particular on the tune The Slide. I look forward to hearing more from Josh.
Dan Polletta- 90.3 WCPN ideastream
Josh Rzepka: Baroque Music for Trumpet (self- released, 2010)
Into the Night (self-released, 2011)
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Cleveland Heights, OH
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students