MM, The Juilliard School
BM, University of Southern California
Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, 1981–1992
The Guarneri Jazz Quartet, 1974-2020
Los Angeles Philharmonic, 1967–1981
Notable Studio Wins
Carter Eng - Second Prize in the international trumpet, guild, jazz competition, 2023 - $3000 cash award
What is your hometown?
Born in Oakland, live in Fairfax California.
What is your favorite recording?
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
What are you passionate about outside of music?
Social and Economic Justice.
Who were your major teachers?
Eddie Smith (Trumpet with Earl "Fatha" Hines), and James Stamp.
What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?
“Find your own voice.”
What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?
"Why do you want me to do this?"
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?
Playing on stage with Louis Armstrong and his band when I was 13 years old.
What was a turning point in your career?
Studying with Eddie Smith (trumpet player with Earl Hines) when I was 8.
If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?
Organizing a movement.
What is your daily practice routine?
Making an intention and staying with it.
If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?
Thelonious Monk, J.S. Bach, and Mario Guarneri. They all speak to me with a different voice.
From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you? Why?
New York in the 50s and 60's Intense creativity.
Please list your top awards and distinctions.
A member of the RJAM faculty, Principal Trumpet in the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Founder of Jazz in the Neighborhood.
Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?
Vance Wolfe, Ralph Alessi, and Richard Roper.
Please list your most important collaborations.
The Guarneri Quartet with Randy Vincent, Akira Tana(Omar Clay), and John Wiitala, Collaboration with Eric Whittington to form the independent musicians alliance.
What recordings can we hear you on?
The Godfather Part III Soundtrack, SBME SPECIAL MKTS
Los Angeles Brass Quintet, Crystal Records
Concerto for Trumpet & Bassoon, Crystal Records
Tell Your Story, berp
From My Heart, berp
Please share a quote about you from the press or a musical icon.
"You're starting to get your s##t together" from Omar Clay.
What are your academic publications?
Robert Schumann Romances transcription, trumpet and piano.
What is your unrealized project?
Economic justice plus a safety net for independent jazz artists.
Mario has done everything from sitting in with Louis Armstrong at the age of thirteen to performing in the Los Angeles Philharmonic for fifteen seasons under conductors Zubin Mehta and Carlo Maria Giulini. He was principal trumpet for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for a decade, toured Europe with the Los Angeles Brass Quintet, and has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, and the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
In addition to his solo albums on the Crystal and Nonesuch labels, one of which was nominated for the Prix de Rome, Mario has played on hundreds of television and motion picture soundtracks and was a featured soloist for movies like Lonesome Dove and Godfather III.
Mario has taught trumpet for more than fifty years, including master classes in Asia and Europe. He performs and records regularly with his jazz quartet in the San Francisco area, and has established a worldwide reputation as a creative musician of the highest level.
In 1986, he developed the Buzz Extension and Resistance Piece (B.E.R.P.) for all brass instruments.
In 2013 he founded a non-profit, Jazz in the Neighborhood which seeks to sustain the art form, establish equity for local jazz artists and provide access for young artists and jazz supporters of all ages. In 2020 he founded the non-profit, Independent Musicians Alliance.