Manhattan-based trumpeter/composer Alex Nguyen’s passion for music was sparked at an early age. When he was five, the Savannah, Georgia, native received his first piano lessons from his godmother, a church organist, and by age ten, Nguyen had picked up the trumpet. It was during high school that Nguyen was first exposed to jazz, studying the theory and history of the music with trombonist Teddy Adams. Nguyen became a featured soloist with his high school jazz band and began attending jam sessions and playing his own gigs in Savannah.
Nguyen attended the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville, earning his bachelors in jazz studies. At UNF, Nguyen played in the critically acclaimed Jazz Ensemble 1, appearing in concert with jazz masters such as Claudio Roditi, Slide Hampton, Christian McBride, and Dave Brubeck. Relocating to New York in 2007, Nguyen first gained recognition on the Big Apple scene for his appearances at Iridium Jazz Club with the Jazz Conceptions Orchestra, a nine-piece band he founded with other UNF alumni. In 2008, Nguyen’s composition “The First Year” was featured on NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron’s Sunnyside release The Traveler. The following year, the JCO released its self-titled debut album to positive reviews.
Playing to audiences throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, Nguyen has appeared with groups such as the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band (Jimmy Cobb and Vincent Herring), the Curtis Fuller Quintet, and the Celebration of Lionel Hampton (Jason Marsalis, Dianne Schurr, Nicholas Payton, Lew Soloff, Terrell Stafford, Marcus Belgrave, Red Holloway, Curtis Fuller, Fred Wesley, Steve Turre, Bucky Pizzarrelli, Candido) to name a few. Nguyen counts among his honors a first-place finish at the International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition, the Jamey Aebersold Award for Artistry at the National Trumpet Competition, and participation in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center and the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival. Nguyen’s interpretation of ballads has been called “achingly beautiful” by the legendary saxophonist and educator Bunky Green, who has also praised the trumpeter’s “great ease” in a variety of contexts.
Since earning his masters in jazz studies from SUNY-Purchase, where he studied with renowned trumpeters Jim Rotondi and Jon Faddis, Nguyen has continued to perform regularly at venues in New York while giving private lessons and working as an instructor to aspiring jazz musicians through the New York Jazz Academy. He also serves as resident trumpet player for Calvary Episcopal Church. Nguyen and his daughter, Gabriella, reside in Inwood.