Jimmy Emerzian is a freelance musician based in Los Angeles and originating from Selma, CA. With a musical approach that balances introspective creativity and bold energy, he has found success in many styles of jazz and commercial music.
As a saxophonist, he has developed a voice of his own, while embracing the traditions set forth by the masters. Equally influenced by Charlie Parker’s twisting bebop lines, Dexter Gordon’s soulful swagger, John Coltrane’s relentless intensity, Warne Marsh’s improvisational daring, Joe Henderson’s melodic angularity, Sonny Rollins’ motivic playfulness, Sam Butera’s growling fire, and Jan Garbarek’s minimalist simplicity, Jimmy has the ability to adapt to a variety of musical settings, and maintain an expressive point of view.
As a composer and arranger, his influences are broad. He grew up being exposed to the rhythmic and harmonic intricacies of Armenian dance and church music, which first gave him an affinity for exotic sounds. As a young child, his ear was also drawn to music of the 1950s, and later funk, rap, hip hop, and classical music. Perhaps the perfect meeting place of all these types of music was jazz, which he discovered early in his teen years and was drawn to immediately. The composers and arrangers that have impacted him the most include Cedar Walton, Tom Harrell, Sammy Nestico, Bill Holman, Tadd Dameron, Charles Mingus, Woody Shaw, Steve Coleman, Chris Potter, Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Claude Debussy, and Percy Grainger. Jimmy’s compositions and arrangements have been included on concert bills throughout the country and beyond, as well as featured on many recordings, and he has been commissioned to write charts for educational and professional groups of various configurations. He is currently working on a collection of etudes based on bebop vocabulary, as well as a comprehensive improvisation method.
As a professional educator, he has taught from the elementary to collegiate level, and has maintained a steady private lesson studio—working with children through adults—for many years. Previously working as Jazz Director at Bullard High School in Fresno, Jimmy currently teaches courses in jazz improvisation, theory, arranging, and jazz combos at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music (campus of CSU Long Beach), where he also received a Master’s Degree in Music (Jazz Studies). Jimmy earned his B.A. in Music (Jazz Studies) from UCLA, and his A.A. from Fresno City College. He has studied with Gary Foster, Billy Higgins, Harold Land, Kenny Burrell, Tom Ranier, Bobby Rodriguez, Jeff Clayton, Jeff Jarvis, Sal Lozano, Bill Liston, Mike Dana, Paul Shaghoian, Mark Ribera, and Larry Honda.
Jimmy’s musical talents have taken him all over the map, having performed in dozens of countries spanning 6 of the 7 continents. He regularly performs with his own small groups, as well as with the Ron King Big Band, Elliot Deutsch Big Band, Teryn Ré Big Band, Eon Burchman Quartet, Dave Damiani and the No Vacancy Orchestra, Pete Jacobs’ Wartime Radio Revue, and the Lou Giovannetti Big Band. In addition to leading his own gigs and acting as a sideman with his contemporaries, he has toured extensively with vocal legend Engelbert Humperdinck, GLEE star Matthew Morrison, A.J. McLean of the Backstreet Boys, and has backed up, recorded, or performed with many well-known artists such as Bobby Caldwell, Dianne Schuur, The 10,000 Maniacs, Jordin Sparks, Swing Out Sister, Gregg Karukas, Jeff Jarvis, Patrick Williams, Van Alexander, Ralph Carmichael, Tim Simonec, Tierney Sutton, Conrad Herwig, Bob Sheppard, Bobby Shew, Ingrid Jensen, and Dan St. Marseille. He has been included on numerous recordings for radio and television, big band swing, jazz fusion, and pop music, and is in demand as a live performer, writer, clinician, and production consultant.