Lecturer of Music
A solid fixture of the New York jazz scene and respected world-wide, Ralph Lalama embodies the best of the jazz sound ideal—great time, great swing, expressed through great melodic ideas. Everything he says and plays comes out of his deep connection and appreciation for “the beat.” Jazz critic Zan Stewart put it succinctly: “Lalama is a grand, modern-minded storyteller…a first-class jazz soloist.” He excels in a chordless trio format with his amazing command of the harmonic progressions articulated through his horn. But on top of being a great jazz soloist, Lalama is equally a solid veteran of jazz ensembles and orchestras. Over his impressive career, starting with Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, and the Mel Lewis Orchestra—now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra—he has honed the craft of sonic blending.
Lalama is a three-time Grammy winner through his work in the Joe Lovano Nonet and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He has nine CDs out as a leader and is on more than 60 recordings as a sideman. He has received praise from the likes of critics Gary Giddins, Stanley Crouch, Ben Ratliff, Ira Gitler, and Stuart Troup, among others.
Ralph Lalama’s playing reveals an enormous depth of musical heart and knowledge. With his muscular, free-wheeling sound and masterful ability to tell a story through his horn, one understands why he so thoroughly connects with musicians, students, and listeners alike.