It comes as no surprise that John Fumasoli’s favorite song growing up was “76 Trombones”.
By Georgetta L. Morque
It comes as no surprise that John Fumasoli’s favorite song growing up was “76 Trombones”. “The Music Man” hit inspired the well-known and accomplished bandleader and musician to choose the trombone as his lifelong instrument and travel down a fascinating musical career path. Fortunately, Fumasoli, a Rye resident, will be performing in a long overdue concert Friday, September 28 at the Rye Arts Center. It’s been several years since he wowed the audience with his acclaimed band, The Jones Factor.
This time, Fumasoli will offer a special performance with one of his many musical cohorts, Bill Harris, in a show, “September Sound Explosion,” a combo of jazz standards, original compositions, R & B and more. Joining them is Roger Ball from the Average White Band and composer of the hit, “Pick Up the Pieces.”
Fumasoli’s long career began in his hometown, New Hyde Park, where he played in his school band and started several club bands. “I had the desire to get better and play any kind of music,” he said fondly of his early years. He graduated as music major from the University of Bridgeport and went on to create and teach music. In addition to his active performance schedule, he currently teaches middle school band in Fairfield, Conn., and jazz history at Fairfield University. “I always enjoyed working with people and teaching was a natural fit.”
In 1986, Fumasoli wanted to start something smaller than a big band but larger than his trombone septet and formed the origins of The Jones Factor, a 10-piece little big band. He describes the end result as “a front burner/back burner with the instrumentation of a pared down big band and the addition of French horn.” Originally named the Jazz Collective, the group had regular gigs in Fairfield County in the early days and worked as a collective for writers and musicians in the region. Over the years, The Jones Factor has performed many different styles of music – Latin, Blues, Hip Hop, Bop —and has two CDs, “Collective Jazz” and “Blast from the Past.” A third is in the works.
His musical journey, filled with exciting stage performances at top concert halls and theaters and scores of collaborations with many celebrated artists, is filled with high notes. To name a few: performing at the Beacon Theater with the Rippingtons; playing with Gerry Mulligan and Tony Bennett; and recording with Average White Band and with Grover Washington Jr. on a Bob Baldwin CD. Yet one of his most memorable experiences was performing with Diana Ross. “Her overture, complete with full string section, big band, and large rhythm section, is about eight minutes long. Meanwhile, the crowd is roaring in anticipation until she finally starts singing … off stage! When she enters and starts the verse … wow!!”
The wow factor of music and the arts infuses the entire Fumasoli family. John’s wife Anne is the Rye Arts Center’s Music School and Public Outreach Director. Their son and daughter, both graduates of Rye High School, were active in band. Christian played piano, trumpet, trombone, and tuba, and Jessica played sax. Jessica teaches dance in Springfield, Mass., where she also dances professionally with the Armorettes, the official dance team of the Springfield Armor, a basketball team in the NBA Development league and an affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets.