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The jazz world mourns the loss of hard-bop trumpeter Jim Rotondi

Jim Rotondi
Goffredo Loertscher
Jim Rotondi

The tributes are pouring in for hard-bop trumpeter Jim Rotondi who died on Sunday, July 7. He was 61.

His wife, Julie, announced his death earlier this week.

Rotondi was a founding member of One For All, an all-star group that featured a front line of saxophonist Eric Alexander and trombonist Steve Davis, as well as pianist David Hazeltine, drummer Joe Farnsworth and bassist John Webber in the rhythm section.

Trumpeter Jim Rotondi died on July 7, 2024 at the age of 61
Goffredo Loertscher
Trumpeter Jim Rotondi died on July 7, 2024 at the age of 61

Guitarist Dave Stryker wrote on Facebook.

"Really sorry to hear about Jim Rotondi's passing. Just a great person and great musician. Good memories from Smoke, Aebersold workshops and saw him in Graz a few years ago."

Pianist and composer Larry Goldings commented on Facebook.

"Jim Rotondi was one of the greatest trumpet players of his generation, and a sweetheart of a guy. He will be missed."

Trombonist and professor Steve Davis gave his thoughts on Rotondi on Facebook.

"Jim Rotondi’s sudden passing has been devastating to absorb. Jim was the epitome of decency… a soulful, straight-up guy who possessed a wonderfully dry sense of humor. He was a brilliant musician, virtuoso trumpeter, composer, arranger, educator… a total, complete bad cat on & off the bandstand. He was a true friend. I’m grateful and honored to have known and played with him for over thirty years, especially with the group One For All. My deepest, heartfelt condolences to his wife Julie, brother Frank and his wife Susan, the Rotondi family, everyone at the University of Music & Performing Arts in Graz, Austria, the One For All family and to all who loved Jim and his music. I will miss him dearly, as will all who knew him. Man, that flugelhorn sound - forget about it… no one could touch him. Rest Jimbo, you are forever amongst the greats."

Rotondi was a major figure in the world of jazz for over 30 years, both in New York and on the international scene. His sound, soul, and sense of swing have been in demand as leader and sideman all over the world.

A Montana native raised in a musical family, Jim started with the piano at eight years old and switched to trumpet at age twelve. Two years later Jim heard a recording of Clifford Brown and he was on his way. A product of the prestigious music program at the University of North Texas, Jim won first place in the International Trumpet Guild’s Jazz Trumpet Competition in 1984.

After relocating to New York, Jim toured and recorded with a host of jazz luminaries, including the big bands of Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Grammy-winner Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bob Mintzer, and the small groups of Charles Earland, Lou Donaldson, Curtis Fuller and Joe Chambers.

Jim was also leading a quintet featuring vibraphonist Joe Locke in the front line, as well as an electric group, Full House, which also features pianist David Hazeltine.

Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 250 awards from organizations like PRNDI (now PMJA), AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.