Over the course of a 40+ year career, Joe Magnarelli has emerged as one of the premier trumpeters, improvisers, composers, and educators in jazz.
Initially training as a pianist who accompanied songs sung by his father, Magnarelli took up trumpet as a youth in his native Syracuse. He was inspired by lessons with noted trumpeter Sal Amico as well as performances with esteemed tenor saxophonist J. R. Montrose. He also studied briefly with distinguished trumpeter Louis Mucci at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and others. During his first two years as a student at the State University of New York-Fredonia, where he earned a Special Studies B.A. in 1982, Joe was the choir director and pianist for the Central Baptist Church in Syracuse, which he regards as a pivotal experience. He plays piano to this day, and considers it a key aspect of his creative journey.
Magnarelli, known to friends and fans as “Mags,” moved to New York City in 1986, with the goal of a fulfilling life devoted to music.
Things happened fairly swiftly. That year, he joined vibes innovator Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra. That association led to tenures with organist Brother Jack McDuff’s septet; pianist and composer Toshiko Akiyoshi’s Jazz Orchestra; jazz singer laureate Jon Hendricks’s group; pianist Harry Connick Jr.’s Orchestra; conga dynamo Ray Barretto’s New World Sextet; saxophonist Charles Davis’s quintet; pianist Harry Whitaker’s group; the N.Y. Hard Bop Quintet, a co-op band that also included pianist Keith Saunders and tenorman Jerry Weldon; composer/arranger Marty Sheller’s Nonet; tenor saxophonist/composer Walt Weiskopf’s groups; the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra; and many more. Among his appearances on over 125 recordings, many have been with these artists and ensembles. Additionally, as a freelance trumpet player, Magnarelli has had the opportunity to play engagements in New York and around the world with Aretha Franklin, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Williams, Freddy Cole, Mel Torme, Johnny Mathis, John Pizzarelli, Jane Monheit, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, George Grunz’s European Orchestra, the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Smalls Jazz All-Stars, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, Chico O'Farrill, Jimmy Cobb's Mob, and Louis Hayes’s Cannonball Legacy Band. Mags has also performed such jazz and pop luminaries as Dr. John, Leon Russell, Liberace, the Manhattan Transfer, Freddie Hubbard, Art Farmer, Jimmy Heath, Al Jarreau, Jerry Bergonzi, Louie Bellson, Paquito D'Rivera, and Thiago Dimello. This impressive list of affiliations clearly demonstrates that Magnarelli is in demand as a top-tier trumpet stylist with a warm, open sound and stellar technique.