Rochester-born musician Mike Cottone developed a love for music at a very young age. After being given a trumpet at the age of 10, it was clear where his love for music would be channeled. In high school, he began to explore the world of jazz thanks to his band director, Mr. Daniel McMurray. Mike was exposed to recordings of trumpet greats such as Louis Armstrong, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, and Roy Hargrove. Thanks to McMurray's guidance and inspiration, he began to develop his own soulful sound and passion for jazz.
Mike attended The Eastman School of Music where he was awarded the prestigious Howard Hanson Scholarship and the Rochester International Jazz Festival Scholarship. Mike began his studies as a double degree student in Jazz Performance and Music Education. He honed his skills under the direction of trumpet teachers Clay Jenkins of the Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra and Douglas Prosser, Principal Trumpeter with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. While playing in Eastman's New Jazz Ensemble and the Downbeat-award-winning Eastman Jazz Ensemble, Mike shared the stage with jazz giants such as Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, John Hollenbeck, Peter Erskine, Rufus Reid, and Marian McPartland. During his time between semesters at Eastman, Mike kept busy performing for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, the Commission Project, the Grand Hotel Orchestra on Mackinac Island, Michigan, and was a featured performer and clinician at the Rochester International Jazz Festival.