The great lead and jazz trumpeter Bobby Shew tells his students that "talent is a matter of breaking barriers." While trumpeter Joey Pero might have brilliantly selected and covered "Defying Gravity" from Broadway's Wicked on his breakthrough CD, Resonance (Resonance Music Group, 2009), Pero has been defying and utterly smashing performance barriers all his life. What would you expect from a man who, still in his mother's womb no less, was given the chance to "witness" and leap in response to the no-barrier trumpeting of Maynard Ferguson?
Joey Perotrumpeter, vocalist, composer, and educatordraws people to him with his infectious passion for life, love, and all things music. This 28 year-old dynamo has been the talk of the trumpet world, and recently the town, with his bravura performance on Resonance.
Originally from upstate New York's Batavia, Pero seemed predestined for some kind of musical life. His father, also Joseph, played baritone horn in the local drum corps. His mother, Jeanne, knew something was "up" musically when she, eight months pregnant, "took" him with Dad to hear the great Maynard Ferguson scream away in concert. And (if you will allow a mother a bit of maternal license) according to Jeanne, the yet-to-be-born Joey Pero leapt to the sounds of Ferguson's stratospheric forays.
The Pero phenomenonand it is a fast-developing one at thatstarted taking shape when Pero took up trumpet at age 11 and, within one year of study, was soloing live, picking off high Gs to the astonishment of his drum corps colleagues. The kid was a natural performer. Sound unbelievable? The video below will provide the evidence.
Joey Pero entered the world of high-energy pageantry drum corps, performing with various groups including Genesee Quest, Ghost Riders, and The Empire Statesmen. His talent and reputation as a special performer and soloist grew very rapidly. Exposure to various ensemble types followed. He was a member of his All-County and All-State Band, Orchestra and Symphonic Band, the Rochester Youth Orchestra, and the Roberts Wesleyan College Wind Ensemble. Honors also included being named Soprano Trumpet Individual Champion three years in a row, from 2000-2002.
It logically followed that Pero would later attend Juilliard. While there, he studied trumpet under the renowned Ray Mase. Pero's incredible trumpeting drew the eye of an individual who became a mentor, and to whom Pero has been compared: award-winning trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis. Marsalis took a special interest in Pero's development and gave lessons to Joey for a number of years. The teacher-student relationship developed into a long-standing friendship to this day. Years later, Pero would be seen performing with a magnificent, 24-karat gold-brushed Monette trumpet, a gift from his mentor.
Never seeming content to rest on his laurels, Pero continued his studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he took lessons with Boston Symphony principal trumpeter Charles Schlueter. Schlueter became a profound influence on Pero, further refining his technique and musicianship. "Whether playing 16th notes at blinding speed or double E flats with ease and tonal perfection, Joey Pero is at ease with his trumpet and embodies the definition of an instrument acting as an extension of one's self," Schlueter was quoted as stating.
The Boston experience also allowed Pero to occasionally study and perform at the Berklee College of Music, an institution world-renowned for its jazz ensemble and jazz composition programs. At Berklee, young Pero had the opportunity to perform with musicians steeped in jazz. A stint in Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau would further hone Pero's jazz and scream chops. On occasion, Ferguson would feature "rising star" trumpeters to perform the leader's own feature solo selections. The YouTube video of Pero's opening to Ferguson's "Macarthur Park" scream solo is a favorite of trumpeters around the world.
With drum corps, Juilliard, New England Conservatory, Berklee, and Ferguson as bases in his incredible arsenal, and with the brilliant Charles Ressler involved as executive producer and creative director, the planning and practicing for Pero's home run on Resonance began in earnest in 2008. Here, Joey Pero and Charles Ressler share thoughts about Resonance.
All About Jazz: What's Resonance all about, and why?
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.