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Vince Mendoza

The wide scope of his works demonstrates an extraordinary understanding of many musical languages. He has written scores of compositions and arrangements for big band, extended compositions for chamber and symphonic orchestra settings and his jazz composing credits read like a who’s who of the best modern instrumentalists, singers and composers. Heralded by critics as a master of contemporary idioms, composer and arranger Vince Mendoza has become a primary choice for the world’s most sophisticated contemporary musicians.

Born in 1961 in Norwalk, Connecticut, Mendoza began learning classical guitar and piano from an early age. His musical influences ran from Bach to Aretha Franklin to Henry Mancini. However, discovering Miles Davis, Gil Evans, and later, Igor Stravinsky and Alban Berg gave him a further complex perspective of the construction of musical forms and ideas. Taking up the trumpet during high school, he later earned a degree in music composition at Ohio State University, before moving to Los Angeles. The music of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter became a strong influence on his big band writing. He began working in the studios, composing music for television, while continuing to add to his extensive body of work written for big band. He completed his post-graduate composition and conducting studies at the University of Southern California. During this time he met a kindred spirit in drummer Peter Erskine, who included him in his mixed ensemble recording, “Transition” on Denon records. Mendoza contributed several compositions to this recording as well as on some of Erskine’s subsequent recordings. They have since become frequent collaborators.

His early solo albums on Blue Note Records, “Start Here” and “Instructions Inside”, were critical triumphs that featured such artists as John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Ralph Towner, Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker, Peter Erskine and others. “Start Here” was voted one of Jazziz Magazine’s “Top Picks” and Mendoza was recognized as “Best Composer/Arranger” by Swing Journal’s critics poll in Japan. Through his profile-building stint as guest arranger and conductor of the WDR Big Band, based in Cologne, Germany, Mendoza became widely known in Europe as a multi-talented composer arranger with a deep understanding of contemporary styles. His work on the CD “The Vince Mendoza / Arif Mardin Project: Jazzpaña” with the WDR Big Band, brought him a Grammy nomination for “best instrumental arrangement”. Since then, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden, Andy Narell, Kurt Elling and John Abercrombie have prominently featured Vince Mendoza’s compositions and arrangements on their albums.

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“Mendoza daringly expands the vernacular…to position him as the clear and natural successor to the late Gil Evans.” (All About Jazz)

“… lyrical, sophisticated and witty.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Vince Mendoza is a “musician’s musician”… managing to interpret the best of his predecessors’ styles, adding undeniable twists and proprietary genius …” (Jazziz)

…”breathtakingly beautiful music of the first order” (Amazon.com)

“Vince’s strikingly original compositions are heralded by musicians and critics alike as innovative,hip and seductively lyrical.” (Downbeat)

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Concert Schedule

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Freedom Over...

Modern Recordings
2022

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Storytellers

Sunnyside Records
2020

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Constant Renaissance

BCM&D Records
2019

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Homecoming

Sunnyside Records
2017

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Nights On Earth

Horizontal
2011

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54

EmArcy
2010

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