The Rocco John Group began as a trio in 1997. Originally called the Rocco John Trio, the group invited trumpeter Michael Irwin to join in 2006. They are known for playing freewheeling standards and original compositions by the band's leader, Rocco John Iacovone. The Rocco John Group are also the standing musical ensemble for the Coalition of Creative Artists, a N.Y.C.-based interdisciplinary improvisational arts group. Miles to Go, an avant-garde collection of original and standard tunes, was the first recording by the Rocco John Trio. The new quartet released Don't Wait Too Long in 2007. Bandleader Iacovone composes for the group and plays piano and alto/soprano saxophones. He cut his jazz teeth playing alto saxophone in Sam Rivers' "Orchestral Explorations" at the Studio Rivbea during the '70s "loft" years. He has performed with Karl Berger, Barry Altschul, the Jazz Composer's Orchestra, Larry Grenadier, and Phil Grenadier, among others. His years of private study with Lee Konitz and training under Rivers helped Iacovone to create a compositional and playing style that often reflects Konitz's emphasis on tasteful restraint and melodic content and Rivers' sense of adventurous abstraction. Given his musical influences, which also include such luminaries as Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, and Eric Dolphy, it is no surprise that Iacovone's music blurs the lines between "in" and "out" playing. As the founder and artistic director of the Coalition of Creative Artists, Iacovone often performs with his quartet and conducts educational clinics for aspiring musicians.
Trumpeter Michael Irwin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from Purchase College, where his teachers included Jon Faddis and Wynton Marsalis. He's been exposed to music all his life through his father, bass player Dennis Irwin. Irwin plays with many artists in N.Y.C., including drummer Kenny Wollesen and his own Mike Irwin Quintet. Bassist Aaron Keane has been playing music from a very young age. He studied the Suzuki method as a child, played the double bass in a jazz band in his teen years, and later spent two years at the Manhattan School of Music studying with Homer Mensch. Dalius Naujokaitis (aka Dalius Nojo), the group's drummer and percussionist, hails from Lithuania, where he studied music at the Conservatory of Vilnius. He has worked extensively in Europe and played in numerous jazz festivals throughout the world, and like Irwin has also performed with Kenny Wollesen. ~ Paula Edelstein