Joseph Alessi has become one of a relative few trombonists with a wide following, both as a member of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and as a soloist. In the latter role he has appeared as the headline player on many recordings, presenting rarely encountered repertory for the trombone as well as more mainstream fare derived from a growing body of popular transcriptions. Alessi has achieved renown not only in the Americas, but across the globe. His admirers have asserted he is arguably the finest living trombonist, rivaled perhaps only by Swedish-born Christian Lindberg. Because of Alessi's background as first- or second-chair player in several major orchestras, it is hardly surprising to note his varied choice of solo repertory, which takes in works by Bernstein, Hindemith, Crumb, contemporary American composers Christopher Rouse and Eric Ewazen, and, via transcription, J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and many others. Alessi has recorded for a number of major labels, including Naxos, Summit Records, Cala, and Chandos.
Joseph Alessi was born in 1959 in Detroit, MI, and raised in San Rafael, CA. His first teacher was his father, a professional trumpet player. At 16 Alessi joined the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and from 1976-1980 studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. While still a student at Curtis he was taken on as second trombone in the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he would remain for four seasons.
After spending a year as first trombonist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Alessi was taken on as principal trombone player by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1985. The following year he joined the faculty at Juilliard School of Music. Alessi began appearing as soloist with the New York Philharmonic in 1990. Two years later he premiered a work commissioned by them, the Christopher Rouse Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, which received a Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Throughout the 1990s and into the new century, Alessi made appearances not only with important orchestras across the globe (including the Hague, Helsinki, New Japan, and Seoul philharmonics), but gave regular concerts as a chamber player.
In 2007 Alessi appeared on three important recordings: Return to Sorrento on Naxos, which contains arrangements of popular operatic numbers, and Bone-a-fide Brass and Visions of Light, both on Summit Records, the former offering mixed fare and the latter containing the title work for trombone and winds by Eric Ewazen.