In 2016, veteran trumpeter and flugelhornist Rob Zinn launched an exciting new phase of his distinguished, multi-faceted career, emerging as a nationally recognized independent smooth jazz artist with his critically acclaimed debut album Yesterday Again.
Recorded with his Delaware based band, the collection offered an explosive mix of a multitude of styles that Zinn has performed over the years, including funk, Latin, R&B, rock, pop and urban jazz. In addition to showcasing his infectious songwriting and versatility on horns and vocals, it included guest appearances by East Coast based genre greats Andrew Neu (saxophones) and Gerald Veasley (bass), in addition to Lawrence Young on vocals and Rafael Padilla on percussion. Songs from the album received airplay on over 90 smooth jazz stations around the world.
The title track, featuring Neu, charted on such prominent outlets as the Smooth Jazz Radar chart, Smooth Jazz Indie chart, Groove Jazz and the RadioWave Internet Play chart, and received “Most Added” designations on Nielsen/Billboard and the Smooth Jazz chart. Zinn and his band (pianist Tom Palmer, bassist Sam Nobles, drummer Wes Morton, saxophonist/vocalist Kevin Lyons) have performed at the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival and numerous venues throughout and beyond Delaware.
Zinn, an endorser of Chicago based Phaeton Trumpets, is currently working on his follow-up album with Paul Brown, a two time Grammy winning producer, guitarist and recording artist who has helmed over 70 #1 hits in his career. The album, slated for an early 2018 release, will feature guest appearances by Neu and saxophonist Michael Paulo, among others.
A native of Maryland who grew up and established his musical career in neighboring Delaware, Zinn brings to his solo artistry a dynamic history as an ensemble performer and popular sideman. While performing in his high school jazz band and in the college jazz band at the University of Delaware, he “cut his teeth” and began his professional career with a prominent 15-piece swing band. Playing with them from the ages of 17 to 25, he performed hundreds of gigs throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware at top venues, big band society dances and numerous special occasions.
Zinn then joined the horn section of the heavily booked 7-piece dance party band Group Therapy, which performed heavy jazz and funk (from Tower of Power to The Brecker Brothers) everywhere from outdoor concerts and country clubs to state fairs and 800-1000 seat venues, opening for, among others, legendary acts like The Spinners, Kool & The Gang, Tower of Power and Average White Band. During his stint with this ensemble, Zinn expanded his repertoire to include lead and harmony vocals, keyboards and percussion.
While playing regularly with the swing band and Group Therapy, Zinn also gigged with Just Friends, a hip big band that played, among others, the music of Buddy Rich, Hank Levy and Maynard Ferguson; and the Brian Pastor Big Band, which performed hip big band music by everyone from Buddy Rich to contemporary master and multiple Grammy winner Gordon Goodwin.
Zinn later exercised his blues chops with Rockett 88 and with The Jimmy Pritchard Band, which represented the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation and competed in the annual Memphis based competition, the International Blues Challenge. Performing with both groups at various blues festivals gave the trumpeter a taste of what he is now enjoying as a leader in his own right. Over the past few years, he has reconnected and performed with Group Therapy, in addition to being part of a seven piece band dedicated to the music of Frank Sinatra and participating in numerous tribute shows (The Beatles, George Harrison, Bruce Springsteen) at World Café Live and The Queen in Wilmington. Zinn has also played at the venue’s annual Shine the Light shows, which feature tributes to single years in pop music and raises money for music programs for underprivileged students.
Though there were no professional musicians in his immediate family, Zinn’s grandfather was a semi-pro trumpeter, so it made sense for him to carry on in that tradition when he began playing at age 9. His parents were big music lovers, and he grew up surrounded by the traditional sounds of Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Frank Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Al Hirt and Johnny Mathis. His two older sisters introduced him to the Beatles and later on his own he discovered Steely Dan, Tower of Power, Chicago, Maynard Ferguson and Chuck Mangione, while also playing along to Herb Alpert records. He added flugelhorn to his arsenal when he was a 3 time selection to the all-state jazz band in high school.
With all of those musical experiences paving the way, Zinn is excited about the fresh opportunities coming his way that will allow him to continue performing his own music for a rapidly growing fan base. “It is amazing to be able to take these ideas rolling around in my head, commit them to a demo, and then be part of the process of bringing a fresh composition to life with amazing musicians,” he says. “The most gratifying thing, though, is playing my songs live. It’s great being a working musician interpreting other people’s compositions, but there’s nothing like making meaningful connections with my own music. I want people to feel something when I play, feel the emotion in what I’m expressing – whether it’s through the melody, chords or performance – and to create a special moment in time for them. That’s the ultimate for me.”