jamie begian - bio


Composer/guitarist Jamie Begian is an emerging and unique voice on the jazz horizon.   His 17 piece labor of love, a.k.a. The Jamie Begian Big Band, has earned its reputation as one of the "must-see" modern big bands in New York City.  This group, established in 1998, has recorded 2 CD's of Jamie's music: "TRANCE" released in February 2003 and "BIG FAT GRIN" released in May 2010. 

The band has earned praise from The Village Voice calling it "... some of the most gorgeous post-Gil hues in recent memory."  TimeOut NY praised it as "...a crack large ensemble..." while All About Jazz labeled it "... a rigorous encounter with the entire history of eclectic big band composition..."   Jamie's compositions have won honors as well.  In 2001 he was the winner of the "Charlie Parker Award," presented by the prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, for his piece Fuzzy Math; the same award he was nominated for in 2000 with his piece Oops!

Jamie's road to becoming a big band leader is as much a story of dedication as it is a story of opportunity (click here for complete biography).   Jamie's initial study was jazz guitar; earning a BM from the Hartt School of Music in Jazz Performance and a MM  in Jazz Performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

His interest in composing began while an undergrad at U. Hart, writing music for small groups that he was performing in.  This interest continued in his graduate studies at The Manhattan School and eventually led to his involvement in The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop; a workshop dedicated to the art of large ensemble composition.

While in the workshop, Jamie's unique sound and conception began to crystallize.  Compositions such as Trance, Kablooie and Passion Shuffle demonstrated his emerging style; sparse, with a flowing architecture and broad dynamic range.  Gradually, other compositions took shape: La Tortuga - with its orchestral grace, Sorry Officer - with its tongue-in-cheek minimalism and Marcysong - a lyrical portrait of a special lady.

This emerging style was also evident in his work as a guitarist, both as a leader and as a sideman.  The formation of The Jamie Begian Trio in 1997, featuring David Ambrosio on bass and Peter Retzlaff on drums, and their five-year run at Merchants Restaurant solidified Jamie's musical conception; elements of playfulness, freedom of form, modern harmony and a basis in blues/jazz tradition. 

This tradition of playfulness, freedom of form and modern harmony is carried on with his current quartet consisting of former WCSU students Jonathan Blanck, Tim Walsh and Chris DeAngelis.  This current quartet has been together since the Fall 2005 and is hoping to record their original tunes this summer.

Jamie's involvement with the pulse composer federation has only further cemented his vision as a unique artist, his music is always different, always challenging and always stamped with his distinctive "voice"  Jamie continues to grow both as a guitarist and as a composer and is grateful for all the positive response to the 2010 release of his second big band recording entitled "Big Fat Grin."