His audition tape features the music of jazz legends Charlie Parker, James Van Heusen and Miles Davis, but the rich sound pouring from the trumpet is all Joey Curreri.
With his practiced riffs and multi-note improvisations, the Hamilton High School junior was selected as one of only 32 students nationwide to participate in this week’s Grammy Camp – Jazz Session. Their talent will be showcased in a series of events linked to the 59th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, providing the student musicians with opportunities to perform for some of music’s biggest names.
“I’m grateful and honored for the opportunity to meet other great players and learn from them,” said Curreri, 16.
This week, the young musicians will record an album, Grammy Jazz 25, at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, and jam with special guest artists on Thursday at the Novo by Microsoft club in L.A. Live. For the grand finale, the Jazz Session will be guests of the Recording Academy at Sunday’s awards ceremony at Staples Center, and then will perform at the after-party.
“Grammy Camp – Jam Session provides an unparalleled experience for some of the most talented young jazz singers and instrumentalists in the U.S., through extraordinary rehearsal, performance and recording opportunities,” said Neil Portnow, president of The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation, which sponsors the Grammy in the Schools program.
Curreri won a place in the Jazz Session on his second try. As a sophomore, he submitted an 11-minute audition tape that features a rapid-fire interpretation of Charlie Parker’s classic “Billie’s Bounce.” This year’s version has a more languorous opening, giving Curreri the chance to show off the evolution and depth of his talent.
Curreri grew up around music, thanks to his dad, Lee, a composer, keyboard artist and sound engineer who plays keyboard on his son’s audition tapes. Mother Sherry is an author and painter.
Joey began playing classical piano at age 6, and then transitioned to the trumpet. A student in Hamilton’s Music and Performing Arts Magnet, he is part of the ensemble performing this month in the musical, “In the Heights.”
He plans to major in music after graduating from Hamilton in 2018, at a university in California or on the East Coast. (Jazz Session participants are eligible for $2 million in scholarships.)
Curreri knows that music is a competitive field but, as his Grammy experience proves, it’s important to stay motivated.
“Preserve your passion,” he said. “Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged.”