Syracuse native Joe Magnarelli moved to New York City in 1986 and soon became a regular participant in the New York and international jazz scene. From 1987, he toured and recorded with Lionel Hampton and Brother Jack McDuff.
Joe currently has nine records out as a leader, and has played on numerous jazz labels as a sideman. In 1990, Joe was a semifinalist at the Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition in Washington, D.C.
Joe made his debut as a leader with 1994’s “Why Not” (Criss Cross). He followed that excellent album with three others on the Criss Cross label: “Always There” (1997), “Mr. Mags” (2000) and “Hoop Dreams” (2005).
He subsequently released “Persistence” (2007) and “My Old Flame” (2010), his first big band recording as a leader. He also made two albums co-leading a sextet with the legendary Philadelphia trumpeter John Swana: “Philly-New York Junction” (1998), and “New York-Philly Junction” (2003).
In 2003-2006, Mags performed with the great Latin jazz conguero Ray Barretto’s New Sextet. Joe recorded on Ray’s “Time Was, Time Is” (O+ Music), which was nominated for a Grammy.
Joe’s early career included touring and recording with Lionel Hampton, Jack McDuff, Toshiko Akioshi, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Harry Connick Jr. and the Hard Bop Quintet.
Also, Joe has worked and toured with the Vanguard Orchestra, Jane Monheit, Jon Hendricks, Jimmy Cobb, Louis Hayes, Alvin Queen, Dado Maroni, Marty Sheller, Tom Harrell Big Band, George Gruntz, Harry Whitaker, Walt Weiskopf, Grant Stewart, Charles Davis, Nick Brignola, JR Monterose, Gary Smulyan, The Carnegie Hall Orchestra, Don Sebesky, John Pizzarelli, Aretha Franklin, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Williams, Michael Feinstein, and the Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Joe is currently an adjunct professor of music at the Juilliard School of Music and Rutgers University. He also conducts clinics and master classes around the world, sharing his musical experience and his knowledge from his past teachers. These teachers have included Jack Palmer, Sal Amico, Tommy Turrentine, James Moody, Garry Dial, Arnold Jacobs, and William Vachianno.
Mags, as he is known, first played music at age 12, starting with guitar and trumpet lessons. He also picked out songs on the piano by ear. Joe’s early performance experience, from elementary through high school, came via playing the trumpet and guitar in church. Later, while attending Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, he was the pianist and choir director at the Central Baptist Church there.
In 1986, Joe received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the State University of New York in Fredonia, and that year, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in music.