Pianist, composer, arranger and trumpeter Jeff Holmes was born in 1955, grew up in Lynnfield MA, and earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Rayburn Wright and Bill Dobbins, among others.
Holmes is a nationally published and commissioned composer/arranger (B.M.I.), and a multiple recipient of National Endowment For The Arts Jazz Composition Grants. He has written music for John Abercrombie, Ernie Watts, Max Roach, Chris Vadala, Doc Severinsen, Paul Winter, Sheila Jordan, Yusef Lateef, Rufus Reid, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Jack’s Mannequin, and the Big Apple Circus, as well as numerous works for professional, military, collegiate, high school and junior high jazz, concert, and marching ensembles.
He has performed around the world including Russia, Japan, and Australia, and was a featured artist on the Jazz at the Kennedy Center series in Washington D.C with the Billy Taylor Trio. Other activities include ongoing appearances with the Paul Winter Consort, collegiate residencies, as well as headlining with his big band at the 2007 International Trumpet Guild Conference. Holmes received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association of Jazz Educators. He is also the featured trumpet performer on the soundtrack to the PBS American Experience presentation “A Class Apart”, and his compositions are included as source music in the 2010 PBS series “Circus”.
In addition to his new quartet CD “Of Ones Own” on Miles High Records, Holmes’ recent recording projects include CDs with the New York Latin All-Stars (“Chicago Exitos!” – horn arrangements and trumpet), and the New England Jazz Ensemble (“It’s A Grand Night For Swinging” featuring new arrangements by Holmes for guest soloist John Abercrombie), contributions to CDs by the Paul Winter Consort (“Earth Music” –piano & composer), and Robert Lamm (trumpet), and, a forthcoming Jeff Holmes Big Band release slated for 2013. In addition to the quartet and his big band, Holmes plays lead trumpet with the New England Jazz Ensemble, Earl MacDonald and the Hartford Jazz Society’s New Directions Ensemble, and Rob Zappulla, as well as drums with the Amherst Jazz Orchestra.
Professor of Music and Director of Jazz and African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Holmes directs the award-winning UMASS Jazz Ensemble I, and Studio Orchestra, which have been featured in invitational appearances at the International Association of Jazz Educators, the Jazz Educators Network, and MENC/NAfME conferences, as well as numerous collegiate jazz festivals/competitions nationally. Over the years, individual students and ensembles of the Jazz & African-American Music Studies program from UMASS have received recognition from DownBeat in virtually every collegiate jazz and pop category. He is also the Artistic Director of the Jazz In July Summer Workshops at UMASS, a continues to guest conduct Junior and Senior District/ All-State jazz ensembles throughout the country, in addition to being in demand as a guest artist, adjudicator, clinician, commissioned composer and lecturer.
Holmes held the position of visiting Professor of Music/Jazz Studies at Hunter College in New York City from 1994 –1996, during which time he led his own New York big band, subbed regularly in the Vanguard Orchestra and on Broadway, and, played with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks and the Ed Palermo Big Band among others. He is also a former panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, columnist for JazzPlayer Magazine, and served as a member of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association board of directors.