Jay Vonada, from Aaronsburg, made all-state band in his junior and senior years of high school, and went to all-eastern band in his senior year. Jay won the John Philip Sousa Award as a senior.
He attended Mansfield University in the fall of 1993, studying jazz improvisation with Dr. Michael Galloway for one year and jazz arranging for one semester. He was lead trombonist and featured soloist with the "Mansfield University Jazz Band" for four years, where they performed at the PMEA, MENC, and placed third at the Villanova Jazz Festival in 1994. Jay played with jazz saxophonist Bob Mintzer at the Mansfield University Jazz Festival, and also performed with Mansfield alumni Neil Slater, who is currently director of the "One O"clock Lab Band" at the University of North Texas. In 1999, Jay won a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music.
Since leaving College, Jay has performed at his high school with the jazz band, in the pit orchestra for Penns Valley High School from 1999-2001, for the Bald Eagle Area High School from 2002-2004, for "Singing On Stages’" production of Dream Girls in 2006 and Oliver in 2007, and trombonist with the "Valley Jazz Orchestra" from 2004-2007, trombonist with "Jazz Innate", an octet from 2003-2005. He has played with Greg Johnson’s "Jazz Monsters" and "Punk Jazz" and has played at the monthly "Jazz Jam at Sozo’s" in State College. He was also the Lead Trombonist with the "Keystone Society of Swing Big Band", and is currently the trombonist for the "Summit Saints Dixieland Band". He plays in a trombone quartet called "Trombone Chowder", and a newly formed five trombone and rhythm jazz group, "Slide Zone", and also plays in a newly formed sextet "Liquid Jazz". Jay has also had the privilege of playing with vocalist Catherine Dupuis, pianist Russ Kassoff, bassists Martin Wind and Jay Anderson, and drummers Tim Horner and Dennis Mackrel at the PA Jazz Festival from 2005-2008.
Jays personal jazz improvisational style is grounded in the bebop tradition of Charlie Parker Dizzy Gillespie and J.J. Johnson. Since discovering Jazz in 1995 he listens to the masters through recordings and live performances as he believes it’s the only way jazz can be taught. He has over 500 CDs of the jazz masters mostly trombonists. JJ. Johnson Curtis Fuller Carl Fontana Frank Rosolino Slide Hampton Ray Anderson Steve Davis Hal Crook etc. Transcribing their solos or just learning them by ear is how he is developing as a jazz player.
Most tracks can be heard on his website www.myspace.com/jjazzbone
His first CD as a leader Jammin" is comprised of all original tunes grounded in the straight ahead jazz style with elements of Latin and Funk. Joining Jay is Adam Kurland on Keyborads Jacob Hibel on bass and John Sullivan on Drums.
Jammin" was recorded at S.A.S. Studios in Houserville Pennsylvania by Scott Smith.
Photos by Scott Smith