About Joe Sullivan



Joe Sullivan comes from the Northern Ontario town of Timmins. He grew up in a large franco-ontarian family, where music was a part of daily life. He began his formal training on piano and later, at the age of fifteen, started playing the trumpet. During his youth, he led an active musical life that included classical piano competitions, rock bands and high school concert and stage bands. He also composed music for several theater productions. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in classical trumpet at the University of Ottawa in 1981. His interest in jazz led him to the Berklee School of Music, then to the New England Conservatory of Music, where he received a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies in 1987.

Since then he has lived in Montreal and has been active as a performer, composer, arranger and bandleader. A prolific composer, Sullivan leads and has written extensively for both his jazz sextet and his jazz Big Band and is active with a variety of small groups. He has seven compact discs to his name, the most recent being “Whiskey Jack Waltz” (Perry Lake Records 2013) with jazz quintet and “Northern Ontario Suite” (Perry Lake Records 2010) with the Joe Sullivan Big Band. He has served as conductor and arranger with the Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra; has been a member of the Vic Vogel Big Band for some twenty-five years; has appeared as a trumpet soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal; and has performed with numerous jazz artists of international repute, including Slide Hampton, Don Thompson, Lorne Lofsky, Pat Labarbera, Kirk Macdonald, Rémi Bolduc, John Medeski, John McNeil, Alain Caron, George Garzone, and Ranee Lee.

He has received both the Prix Socan (1991) and the Prix DuMaurier (Joel Miller Group, 1997) at the Montreal International Jazz Festival as well as several awards from the Canadian and Québec arts councils. He currently directs the McGill Jazz Orchestra 1 and teaches jazz composition, arranging and trumpet at McGill University, where he is an associate professor.


Joe Sullivan est originaire de la ville de Timmins, dans le nord de l’Ontario. Il grandit dans une grande famille franco-ontarienne, oû la musique faisait parti des activités quotidiennes. Sa formation musicale débuta au piano durant son enfance et, plus tard, à l’âge de quinze ans, il découvrit la trompette. Sa passion pour la musique lui mena a entreprendre divers activités musicales durant sa jeunesse: il participa à divers concours régionales de musique classique, fut membre de divers groupes de musique populaire et composa de la musique pour des piéces de théâtre. Il reçut son Baccalauréat en trompette classique à l’Université d’Ottawa en 1981. Son désire d’explorer le monde du jazz lui mena ensuite à l’école de musique Berklee, puis au New England Conservatory of Music à Boston, où il obtint une Maîtrise en Interprétation Jazz en 1987.

La même année il s’installe à Montréal. Depuis, il est actif en tant que trompettiste, compositeur, arrangeur, et chef d’orchestre. Compositeur prolifique, il dirige son sextuor, son grand ensemble et participe a divers projets en petites formations. Il a sept disques compactes à son nom, les plus récents étant  “Whiskey Jack Waltz” (Perry Lake Records 2013) en quintette et “Northern Ontario Suite” (Perry Lake Records 2010) en grand ensemble. Il est membre du Vic Vogel Big Band depuis déjà vingt-cinq ans; il a été soliste avec l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal et le Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; il a joué avec de nombreux artistes renommés y compris Slide Hampton, Don Thompson, Lorne Lofsky, Pat Labarbera, Kirk Macdonald, Rémi Bolduc, John Medeski, John McNeil, Alain Caron, George Garzone, and Ranee Lee.

Il a été récipient du Prix Socan (1991) et du Prix DuMaurier (Joel Miller Group, 1997) au Festival de Jazz de Montréal, ainsi que de plusieurs subventions du Conseil des Arts du Canada et du Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec. Il enseigne présentement l’arrangement et la composition jazz, et dirige le l’Orchestre de Jazz 1 à l’Université McGill, oû il est un professeur agrégé.


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