Chicago area trumpeter and Maynard Ferguson Orchestra alum Nick Drozdoff has released a new CD of original music and some standards with some of the finest musicians in Chicago. This CD boasts a wide variety of styles ranging from New Orleans funk (As Gnome Ran) to straight ahead be-bop (Blues Waltz) to 70’s retro (Punk’s Funk) to old torch songs (A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and What Is This Thing Called Love). The title of the CD, released on Mr. D’s Music, is “No Man Is An Island.”The sidemen on this recording are a list of jazz luminaries from the Chicago area. Dave Dorsett and Frank Dawson are on guitar. Greg Barone and Steve Hashimoto are on bass. Larry Beers and Isi Perez are drums. Finally, Bob Applebaum and Neil Artwick are covering the keyboards. Along with Drozdoff, these are busy free-lancers entrenched in Chicago’s vibrant “jobbing” scene. Normally limited to playing at society events and trade shows, these musicians are letting their hair down on this project.
Drozdoff has been a fixture in Chicago’s jobbing arena for many years since he left Maynard Ferguson’s band in 1981. After many years running his own contracting business and completing his masters in classical trumpet, he began leading a double life in 1991 when he took on a “day gig” as a high school physics teacher. Drozdoff has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, allowing him to easily slip into a high school physics class. Drozdoff currently teaches physics and APC physics at Winnetka’s New Trier High School. He has been leading a double career existence, garnering awards as a high school science teacher and developing endorsement deals as a jazz trumpeter at night.
Much of Drozdoff’s current efforts can be connected to his double career and dual background. Using his engineering and physics background, he has built a recording studio where he does his recording. He has used his background with computers to build connections all over the world as a trumpeter. So far, “No Man Is An Island” has been sold in places ranging from Singapore to Japan to England to Croatia as well as across the United States and Canada.
Drozdoff’s CD is an effort to move away from computer generated music to a more organic sound or a real live jazz band. The title, “No Man Is an Island,” is a tribute to a philosophy Drozdoff has understood for some time. Every musician evolves as a performer and composer in the light of other fine musicians. This recording is as a much a tribute to the expressive and creative skills of fine sidemen as it is a showcase for Drozdoff’s trumpet playing, composing and arranging.
“No Man Is An Island” is currently available primarily at Drozdoff’s web site.
His CD can also be found at other internet sites as well as at Evanston Band and Orchestra at 4819 Main Street in Skokie, Illinois.
Drozdoff is also featured on a recording completed in Saratoga, New York and in Mr. D’s Music Studio in Chicago. The rhythm section and final mixes were completed in Perth, Australia. This CD, titled Intercontinental Drift featured the works of trumpeter, Adrian Kelly. One of the pieces features Drozdoff’s solo jazz flugelhorn with a string quartet. This piece won the Western Australian Music Industry Association Award as the best jazz piece of 2007.
Drozdoff is also the trumpet soloist with the Grilly Brothers jazz quintet and is featured on their recent CD, “Goin’ Places.” The Grilly bothers regularly pack venues as lofty as the legendary Jazz Showcase of Chicago.
Finally, Drozdoff is the trumpeter for the Momentum Talent Group agency and the busy party band, “Momentum,” led by Larry Eckerling.
- Performed with Chicago Symphony Orchestra members for the Apollo Chorus
- Maynard Ferguson Orchestra
- Featured Soloist at New Trier High School jazz band concerts
- Jazz Quintet featured at Glenbard North High School in 2006
- Featured Soloist with the Bensenville Concert Band
- Featured soloist with the Lake Forest Symphony
- Featured soloist with the Glenbrook North High School Concert Band
- Featured soloist with the Oak Lawn Symphony
- Recitalist at College of Lake County (Faculty Member), Roosevelt University, American Conservatory of Music
- Featured Soloist with Wright College Big Bands
- On record albums for The Grilly Brothers, Guy Fricano, Marshall Vente, Doug Lofstrom, Chuchito Valdes and Maynard Ferguson (live in Japan, 1981)
- Trumpeter for the Momentum Talent Group
- The Ojays
- Dennis De Young of Styx
- Keely Smith
- Sammy Davis, Jr.
- Melissa Manchester
- Rich Little
- John Denver
- The Spinners
- The Temptations
- Gladys Knight and the Pips
- Patti Page
- Frankie Lane
- Della Resse
- Carole Lawrence
- Robert Goulet
- Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme
- Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)
- Bobby Vinton
- Vic Damone
- Frankie Avalon
- Diahann Carroll
- Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin
- Rosemary Clooney
- Helen O’Connell
- Pat Boone
- Lawrence Welk All Stars
- Bill Cosby
- Dick Shawn
- George Kirby
- Jack Jones
- Julie Budd
- Tex Beneke
- Louie Bellson
- The Larry Eckerling Orchestra
In addition to this Drozdoff ran his own contracting business for thirteen years. He led bands and brass ensembles for everything from weddings to large corporate events. His trumpet playing has been heard on recordings for radio and TV as well as on Chicago area jazz record albums for artists such as Marshall Vente, Doug Lofstrom, Chuchito Valdes, and Guy Fricano. He is currently on call as solo trumpet with the Chicago Grandstand Big Band and is on call as lead or solo trumpet with various Chicago area big bands. Drozdoff is frequently called upon to appear as a classical soloist in churches and in recital environments. He also still leads one of the Chicago area’s finest brass quintets.
What Some People Have Said About Nick Drozdoff and His Music:
“Nick is one of today’s strongest players.”
“a powerful lead trumpeter…”
Larry Kart, Chicago Tribune
“soaring trumpet work…”
Owen Cordle, Downbeat Magazine
“Nick Drozdoff is one of Chicago’s most versatile and refreshing musicians.”
Barry Winograd, WXRT Radio
“Well… I’ve probably said this type of thing before, but if you’ve never had the opportunity to hear Nick live with a big band, you’re missing out on some really great lead and solo playing. Tonite with the Chicago Grandstand Big Band, we did our monthly 3.5 hour gig at Fitzgeralds in Berwyn, about 15 minutes west of Chicago.
“This band plays predominantly pro charts from the Kenton, Herman, and Buddy Rich books. I play about 2/3 of the lead throughout the night, but give Nick most of the real heavy pieces, and he also plays most of the trumpet solos. During the night, he did a Doc Severinsen solo, and 3 or 4 really tough blowing lead parts, while playing second on virtually every other tune. We were all a little tired as we get to the last song (of 31 tonight). A guest (drummer Kent Nicholson, the brother of ex-Maynard trumpeter Lynn Nicholson) had brought in the MF arrangement of “MacArthur Park,” which many of us were sight-reading.
“Nick, as you might expect, was familiar with the arrangement… and he just KILLED it! Stunning power throughout and he nailed every double B, played a longish, physically aggressive improv solo, and still lit up the melody each time it came around in the upper register. The ending double B was great!
“Add to that a very relaxed and jovial camaraderie from him, he really makes the evening a joy to with which to play and to listen to. Thanks, man!”
Dr. Michael Stewart, Professional Lead Trumpeter, Composer, Arranger, Music Educator
- Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Washington University, St. Louis
- Master of Music from Roosevelt University
- Masters in Physics/Teaching from DePaul University
- Type 9 teaching certificate in physics, physical science and instrumental music
- Professional Experience
- Electronics Technician at McDonnell Douglas Aricraft in St. Louis
- Design Engineer at Motorola in Schaumburg
- Maynard Ferguson Orchestra
- Free lance trumpeter
- Currently physics teacher at New Trier High School
- Teacher of Physics and Physical Sciences at Glenbrook North High School
- Teacher of Physics, AP Physics (B and C) and Physical Science at Zion-Benton High School
- Clinician and Lecturer on Brasswind Playing and Music
- Lecturer on Science Educational Techniques
- Lecturer on the Physics of Music
- June 2000 Recipient of the John Rush Award from the Illinois State Physics Project
- Nominated Teacher of the Year – Glenbrook North High School – 1995
- Science Teacher of the Year – Sigma Xi – Northern Illinois – 1994
Also wrote Teachers’ Manual for Unified Science Course at Glenbrook North High School and co-wrote text for Teller Video Project at Illinois Math and Science Academy.