Thirty-one year old trumpeter and composer Josh Rzepka has been featured on NPR, PBS, and has been heard on jazz radio across the country and world. His album Into the Night reached the #9 position on the JazzWeek radio chart and the #5 position on the CMJ Jazz chart. He has been heralded not only for his jazz playing and composing, but also for his classical performances.
Current Chicago resident and native of Akron, OH, Josh has released four albums. His jazz albums include, Trumpet Genesis (2013), Into the Night (2011), and his debut albm Midwest Coast (2009). His debut classical album was Josh Rzepka: Baroque Music for Trumpet (2010).
As an educator he is the jazz trumpet instructor at the Merit School of Music in Chicago, where he teaches private trumpet lessons and classes for the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory. He also teaches private lessons nationally and internationally to students of all ages through Skype.
Josh earned his BM from the Oberlin Conservatory with a double major in classical and jazz trumpet performance. He earned his MM in performance from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts.
With his third jazz album Trumpet Genesis (2013), he follows up his release Into the Night , his debut classical CD Josh Rzepka: Baroque Music for Trumpet(2010), and his critically acclaimed debut jazz CD Midwest Coast (2009).
Quickly establishing himself as one of the most versatile upcoming performers in classical and jazz music, Josh has performed across the country at famed venues including Severance Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Cleveland’s NightTown, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Knitting Factory in NYC, as well as the Green Mill, Andy’s Jazz Club, and the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. As a soloist Josh has presented recitals and concerts ranging from the baroque, to modern, to original jazz.
Appearances include performing with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra led by internationally renowned trumpeter Sean Jones, as well as with many other groups and ensembles in the NE Ohio region. In Chicago he has appeared with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Alan Gresik’s Swing Shift Orchestra, as well as many other ensembles and groups. He has toured nationally with the group Under the Streetlamp, and has recorded with the likes of Detroit and Motown legend Marcus Belgrave, trombone extraordinaire Andy Hunter, and does session work writing charts and recording for indie, rock, and blues artists.
In 2011 Josh was recognized by the Akron Area Arts Alliance with their 2011 Arts Alive! Rising Young Star award. This biennial award was a big honor for Josh and he was thrilled to receive recognition from his home town of Akron.
When you ask Josh which kind of music he enjoys performing the most, – classical or jazz – he’ll tell you, “As far as I am concerned, there are only two kinds of music: good and bad. Personally, I like playing good music. As soon as you start to classify music any other way, I think you miss out on its true spirit.”
In 2009 Josh decided to take a major step in his career, he would record and release a jazz and classical solo CD within the same year – on his own. He knew only a few certainties that the jazz CD would be comprised of all originals, that the classical CD would be with a chamber orchestra, and that they would be recorded and produced in NE Ohio. Josh said “I feel very fortunate to be able to call NE Ohio my home, and the musicians here are truly first class. I didn’t even consider recording anywhere else. I can use local talent, and produce first rate recordings”.
The first recording made and released was his debut jazz CD Midwest Coast, an album of all original music that has been called “a winning, listenable recording debut” and “an impressive display of chops and taste” by Cleveland SCENE. It was recorded in the summer of 09’ in legendary SUMA Studios in Painesville, Ohio. Besides Rzepka’s “cool, relaxed warm tone” – Akron Beacon Journal, Midwest Coast features some of Cleveland’s finest jazz musicians – including Peter Dominguez, Jackie Warren and Ron Godale, all established veterans of north-east Ohio’s jazz scene. Since its release, Midwest Coast has garnered significant national radio airplay reaching the #33 spot on the JazzWeek chart, #15 on CMJ Jazz, and #2 on Roots Music Report Jazz, a reflection of airplay on over 100 separate radio stations in almost every major market in the country.
In the winter and spring of 2010, while finishing up his MM at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts , Josh recorded his debut CD of baroque concerti in NE Ohio with a chamber orchestra, Josh Rzepka: Baroque Music for Trumpet. This recording features music by Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Phillip Telemann, Handel, Henry Purcell, Giuseppe Torelli, and Johan Baptist Neruda. The CD was recorded in Cleveland and Oberlin by Cleveland based multi Grammy ® award winning recording and production company, 5/4 productions. It features Rzepka as a soloist playing concertos and solo pieces backed by twelve strings and a harpsichord. For his undergraduate, Josh is a graduate of the renowned Oberlin Conservatory of music with a double major in classical and jazz trumpet performance.
In the summer of 2011 Josh went back into the recording studio to record his second jazz album of all original compositions. The result was Into the Night, an album that again features the talents of pianist Jackie Warren, bassist Peter Dominguez and drummer Ron Godale. In addition, the album features fellow Oberlin Alum trombonist Andy Hunter, and local saxophonist Steve Kortyka. Into the Night was recorded in the brand new recording studio in Oberlin’s Bertram and Judith Kohl Building – the new home for jazz in Oberlin. It was recorded by the multi Grammy ® award winning recording and production company 5/4 productions.
On October 29th 2012, on the eve of hurricane Sandy, Josh went back into the studio with an all-star group of musicians to record Trumpet Genesis. This new album includes many of his most important musical mentors, friends and teachers. The other trumpeters appearing on this new album with Josh include Cleveland jazz legend Kenny Davis, Detroit and Motown legend Marcus Belgrave, Akron jazz legend Jack Schantz, Joe Miller and Ian Indorf. The rhythm section includes pianists Jackie Warrenand David Thomas, as well as bassist Peter Dominguez, drummer Ron Godale, and percussionist Sammy DeLeon. The album was recorded at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts in Cleveland, Ohio, by Tri-C’s Recording Arts and Technology (RAT) department.