very early age, John showed great promise as a wind player. His
folks say that he learned to whistle before he even learned to
walk. They didn't realize until he was about 8 years old, that
those early signs were the beginning of what was to become a prolific
career playing the Saxophone. John's older brothers Frank and
Joseph played Clarinet and Trumpet respectively, so when John
decided that he wanted to be like his brother Joe and play the
trumpet, Joe suggested that he think a little more about which
instrument to play. They opened an encyclopedia to see what a
Saxophone looked like and Joe convinced him that it was shaped
like the letter "J" as in John. He was sold. So with
his parents, John & Gina, they went to Manny's in NYC and
purchased John's first Sax for $50. His Dad made him a neckstrap
out of a shoelace and John played on the corner and the rest is
elementary school, John excelled at all aspects of music whether
it be wind or rhythmic related. His music teacher, Tom Colabella,
who incidentally is a Drummer, encouraged and challenged John
with both rhythmic and melodic exercises. When John entered the
6th grade, he became enamored with a local Drum and Baton Corp...the
Huntington Thunderers, who shortly thereafter became the National
Champion Long Island Patriots. It was here that John really began
to develop his sense of playing in a horn section. Under the tutelage
and Musical Direction of Clem DeRosa, the Long Island Patriots
went on to win three National Drum and Baton Championships starting
in 1975 and continuing through 1976 and 1977.
was shortly after entering Junior High School that John really
began to show and express his love for the Saxophone. With a program
that encouraged competition and rewarded hard work, John's interest
flourished. Under the direction of Miss Connie McDermott and Miss
Pat O'Brian, John began to understand and accept his passion for
playing music. It was at this time that John began studying under
the tutelage of the father and son team of Hy and Alan Mandel.
This is when he really began to listen to the saxophone greats
and develop a sense of the history of the saxophone, but more
importantly, this is when he realized that he wanted to play Jazz.
He began to inquire into who could help him in this task and this
led him to a very unique and influential man in many a musicians
career named Ranny Reeve. Ranny, a local Pianist, Teacher, Writer
and Philosopher, offered John a place in his "Jazz in the
Living Room" teachings and concerts. This unique method of
creating a place for kids and adults to get together and play
in a healthy and nurturing environment, namely Ranny's living
room, proved to be the catalyst for John's decision to pursue
a career in music. With Ranny and the ensemble, John played many
local concerts and festivals. One of the highlights of his tenure
with Ranny was performing in New York City for the first time
in a new outdoor concert series at the famed Citicorp Building
atrium on 54th Street. A highlight of that performance was the
Earl Hagen tune entitled "Harlem Nocturne".
stressed a well rounded education that would include learning
not only about music. John enrolled in the music program at State
University of New York at Potsdam in the Music Education program.
Here John studied with Dr. James Stoltie and Anthony Maiello.
After a year or so, John decided that he needed and missed a more
competitive environment where he could flourish. He applied and
was accepted to Berklee School of Music in the Saxophone Performance
program where he received the coveted Phil Woods scholarship.
It was at Berklee that John began to really become a part of the
music community and develop relationships that have endured over
the years since his graduation.At Berklee John studied with Jimmy
Mosher, George Garzone, Billy Pierce, Matt Maraviglio, John LaPorta,
Phil Wilson, Bob Freidman and Joseph Viola. John graduated Magna
Cum Laude in 1985 and immediately signed up for the waiting list
for world renowned teacher and tenor Saxophonist, Jerry Bergonzi.
That wait would be a few years, so John took advantage of an offer
of recommendation from Joe Viola to join the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
under the direction of Buddy Morrow. It was with the Dorsey band
that John got his first taste of being on the road with a band.
While with Dorsey, John traveled in the United States exclusively
and for the most part, by tour bus. After 1 1/2 years on the road,
John's name came up on Jerry Bergonzi's list, so he moved back
to Boston to continue his studies. At this point John switched
from playing Alto Saxophone to playing Tenor Sax and began his
studies with Mr. Bergonzi. It is at this point of John's life
and studies that he feels he developed a great deal of his character
as a player and as a musician.
continued to live, work and study in Boston with just about every
band he could. From Artie Shaw to the Temptations to the Moody
Blues. He knew that soon he would be headed for New York, his
home and family and his future in the music business. Shortly
after arriving in New York, John attended a monthly meeting of
a local NY area band that he heard had a slamming horn section.
He walked in on a 12-piece band playing the music of Tower of
Power and Earth, Wind and Fire. That band, the Funk Filharmonik
would be very influential in John's new environment. That night
he gave the Tenor saxophone player his business card and told
him he was available to fill in whenever they needed a sub. A
month later, John received a call from the band and was asked
to come out to a sound check at a club in Huntington, NY. John
auditioned on Baritone Sax and was offered the job on the spot.
The local exposure that this band created for John was instrumental
in propelling his career playing live and in the studios of Long
Island and NY. Along with Lee Finkelstein, Ozzie Melendez and
the Funk boys, the Funk Filharmonik continues to funk up New York
and has won "Best Horn Band" in NY many years in the
running. Go to
www.funkfilharmonik.com for more information.
with the "Funk" horn section, John and a close friend
from Berklee School of Music, John Wheeler, started
another horn section that they called the "East 4th Horns".
John S. and John W. had always said that when they both got to
NY that they would start a horn section to play in the ever present
and challenging New York studio scene. With John W. on Trombones
and John Almark on Trumpets and arranging, they had a winning
combination. The Trumpet chair seemed to evolve as the work became
more frequent. It was at this point that Tony Kadleck joined the
section. It was with John and Tony that the East 4th Horns really
developed their sound. After landing a great account with "Beat
on Beat " studios under the production of Atsushi Kosugi,
the East 4th Horns began to record with artists such as George
Benson,The Gypsy Kings, Jody Watley, Natalie Cole, Luther Vandross,
Bill Cosby, Aaron Hall, Ultra Nate, Nuyorican Soul, Be Be Wynans,
Terrence Trent D'arby, The Braxtons and Salt-n-Pepa. Some other
musicians that recorded with the East 4th horns in the section
are Arturo Sandoval, Michael Brecker, Grover Washington, Jr.,
Bill Evans, Phil Woods, Bob Mintzer, Bob Berg, Lenny Pickett,
Jay Beckenstein, Gary Smulyan, Barry Danielian, Ozzie Melendez,
Joe Giorgianni, Dave Mann, Eric Miyashiro, Andy Snitzer and Donny
McCaslin to name a few.
afternoon John received a phone call from Emilio Castillo of Tower
of Power upon the recommendations of both David Mann and Barry
Danielian, the then current sax and trumpet players with Tower.
Emilio asked to speak with John Scarpulla and identified himself.
John, thinking that one of his close friends was playing a prank
on him was skeptical and laughed it off as another prank. Emilio
again identified himself. At this point John realized that it
really was Emilio and began apologizing. Emilio again identified
himself and calmed John down. He asked John to send out a demo
as soon as possible to the band while they were on the road. Emilio
said that if the demo was cool John would hear from Tower's management.
After receiving and listening to the demo that John sent, Emilio
called again to say that it was the slickest demo that he had
received and to expect a call from his manager. With Tower, John
was really in his element. He prepared for the gig by memorizing
the entire repertoire of the current touring band. When he arrived
at the first sound check, Emilio asked him to play a few of the
more difficult tunes in the set. After a few tunes, Emilio called
an end to the sound check and welcomed John to the band. With
Tower John played and recorded on "Rhythm and Business"
and can be heard on the Rhino compilation entitled "What
is Hip? : The Tower of Power Anthology" and Soul with a Capitol
"S":The Best of Tower of Power". With TOP John
toured most of the United States and North America as well as
most of Europe numerous times.
his credit, John has pursued many avenues of the music business
and many styles of music. His love of Latin rhythms and Salsa
has led him to play and record alongside and with many of Latin
musics icons and idols. He has recorded and performed with Willie
Colon, Celia Cruz, Ralph Irizzary, Ruben Blades, Marc Anthony,
Ricky Martin, Sergio George, Tito Nieves, Roy Ayers and Huey Dunbar
of DLG. His passion for salsa has enabled him the opportunity
to travel to South and Central America as well as all over the
United States and Canada.
was the featured and lead Saxophonist with the Tony Award Winning
(Best Music/Best Choreography) Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp collaboration
entitled "Movin' Out" at the Richard Roger's Theater on Broadway.
On the show he played the lead Tenor Sax chair as well as Soprano
and Baritone Saxes and Percussion. The show opened to rave reviews
on October 24th, 2002 and without fail had śmultiple standing
ovations at every performance with the help of stunning performances
by the dance company as well as the rest of the band led by Tommy
Byrnes and sung by Michael Cavanaugh and Wade Preston. Occasionally,
Billy even showed up and climbed the stage and joined us in an
encore to be remembered.
Currently John is performing in the tri-state area and around the world with quite a variety of bands including work with “New York’s tightest funk ensemble”, the Funk Filharmonik…Check out their recent CD release entitled “Everybody Get Down” which will Funk you up with it’s fusion of old school Funk, Soul, Rhythm & Blues and Latin rhythms. There are outstanding performances by other Tower of Power alumni, Tom Bowes and Brent Carter.
You can also catch John performing with the “Ultimate Billy Joel Tribute”, Big Shot on a weekly basis. The band, fronted and led by Mike DelGuidice, who incidentally always and without fail puts on an amazing show of his vocal skills, covers the music of Billy Joel, Elton John, Journey and so many other artists. Joining longtime members Ken Cino and Nick Dimachino of “Nine Days” are Mike Sorrentino and Carmine Giglio, who along with John are “Movin’ Out” alumni. This band is a must see if you are a fan of Billy’s music. “They had a hard time convincing me it wasn’t me” is what Billy had to say.
As long as we’re on the Billy bus, John has continued his relationship with Michael Cavanaugh, the Tony and Grammy nominated Piano Man of “Movin’ Out” fame and has had the wonderful opportunity to perform with Michael in various venues both in the New York area and abroad. You can hear John on Michael’s newest release produced by Rob Mathes and joined by Will Lee and Shaun Pelton entitled “In Color’.
Another amazing experience that John has had the honor of being a part of are Michael’s symphony shows where they perform with the premier symphonies of North America including Indianapolis, Baltimore, Ottawa and the Boston Pops. The chemistry and friendship that has developed both during and after “Movin’ Out” has endured and these shows are a must see.
This past summer John was asked to join Billy Joel and his band for the historic “Last Play at Shea” shows where we performed for over 60,000 people a night and were joined by Don Henley, John Mellencamp, John Mayer and Tony Bennett. The second show trumped it with a return from Tony Bennett along with new turns from Steven Tyler, Roger Daltry, Garth Brooks and, as if that were not enough, Sir Paul McCartney.
He recently was the Musical Director for the Long Island Music Hall of Fame awards where he conducted, arranged, contracted and performed with DMC & Chuck D, Kenny Vance & the Tokens and Felix Cavaliere. Other inductees that night were Billy Joel, Paul Simon, LL Cool J, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Pat Benatar, the Ramones, Walter Becker, Carole King and Blue Oyster Cult to name a few.
As is all of this wasn’t enough, John and the love of his life, Yanni are the proud parents of Giancarlo and Luca born in October of 2007. “You don’t even begin to realize the capacity of love that the human heart can endure until you hold your child in your arms”.
Please check in on John’s schedule page for all of these and other exciting events and stay tuned for more information and current updates as time goes by.
Peace and best regards to one and all!
Backstage with His Mom & Dad