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, he had picked up the trumpet. It was during high school that he was first exposed to jazz, studying the theory and history of the music with trombonist Teddy Adams. Alex 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, he played in the critically acclaimed Jazz Ensemble 1, appearing in concert with an array of jazz masters. Relocating to New York in 2007, Alex 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, his 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, he has appeared with groups such as the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band, the Curtis Fuller Quintet, and the Celebration of Lionel Hampton, to name a few. He 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, Alex has continued to perform regularly at venues in New York. He has also worked as an instructor to aspiring jazz musicians through the New York Jazz Academy. Nguyen now serves as music director of St. George's Episcopal Church where he has embraced its history of singing spirituals, while introducing jazz elements into the service music. He also began its monthly series Jazz in the Cave, and a monthly Jazz Vespers.