Rob Zappulla

Guest Artist

Rob Zappulla — Guest Artist with the Hartford Jazz Orchestra

Guest Artist

Not many vocalists/trumpeters have performed with one of the most popular big bands of all time – The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

From 2001 to 2009, Rob was the featured vocalist for this renowned big band under the direction of the legendary Buddy Morrow.  Morrow, who performed with bandleader Tommy Dorsey, declared that “Zappulla’s talent, his rich baritone voice, his own style and interpretation of the Great American Songbook, and as a dynamic entertainer, was a perfect match for this great Orchestra.”  The affiliation took this great singer on tour with the Orchestra around the globe and to performing at the 2005 President’s Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C.

Rob grew up in Connecticut and as a young boy, heard a recording of “The Brave Bulls” by Harry James and then was captivated by the music of Herb Alpert and the die was cast. In 4th grade, Rob began his trumpet studies in the local school system under the direction of Paul Karam and Ron Campanario. His first private trumpet instructor was Conrad Gozzo at the Burritt Music Shop in New Britain, CT, cousin of the famous lead trumpeter Conrad Gozzo. Soon after, Rob was influenced by Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and Conrad Gozzo, among several other jazz and classical trumpet players.

At the age of 13, Rob began his studies with the principal trumpet player of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Ronald Kutik, at University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music.  He then attended Central CT State University’s music education program while studying trumpet with James (Doc) Shugert and adjunct trumpet teacher Harold Zinno. Rob later studied with the notable trumpet players and educators, Bob McCoy and Jon Faddis.

Rob has worked as a trumpeter with show bands and artists such as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, The Box Tops, Lesley Gore, Willie Ruff & Dwike Mitchell, Deana Martin, Bobby Rydell and many others.  He also toured with several groups opening for Tower of Power, The Temptations, Patti Austin, The Count Basie Orchestra, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Drifters, Tiny Tim, Bobby Vinton, Shirley Alston Reeves of The Shirelles, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and more.

Beside his classical background, Rob’s talent as a jazz and commercial trumpet player led him to performing as a trumpet soloist in several big bands including The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and The Nelson Riddle Orchestra under the direction of Christopher Riddle.  As a trumpeter, he can be heard on many recordings with a variety of musical artists.

Without any vocal training, Rob began singing and recording professionally at the age of 18.

Rob’s additional experience as a theater pit orchestra musician and musical director brought him to start his own big band in 1994 – “Rob Zappulla Big Band Jazz Ensemble”.

Rob’s CD “Something Makes Me Want To Dance With You” was released in 2000 with the music arrangements, and orchestra conducted, by Lew Anderson. The songs are by 20th century greats such as Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter.

Released in 2009 was Rob’s CD “You Ought To Be Havin’ Fun!” This exciting concept combines 1960s and 70s pop hits with Rob’s big band. The recording session was conducted by Jeff Steinberg with musical arrangements by Jeff Steinberg, Don Sebesky, Bryan Kidd, Jason Goldman and Lew Anderson.

When you listen to Rob’s recordings, you’ll hear the passion and creativity that went into these masterful projects.

In 2004, Rob was chosen to be an extra actor as a Stepford husband in the Paramount remake movie “The Stepford Wives” directed by Frank Oz, starring Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Faith Hill, John Lovitz, and many other all-stars.

As a vocalist and trumpeter, Rob has headlined performances at the famous Birdland Jazz Club to performing at Lincoln Center in New York City, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos to the casinos of Las Vegas, cruises throughout the Caribbean and Europe, and is honored to have often performed as guest vocalist with the United States Military Academy’s West Point Jazz Knights Big Band and Concert Band.

Rob’s incredible voice, superb trumpet playing, extraordinary style and showmanship continue to bring him tremendous accolades as he performs to sold out audiences of all ages throughout the world.

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