James Chirillo

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James Chirillo
James Chirillo.jpg
Chirillo with the Kenny Davern All Stars at the 2004 Breçon Jazz Festival (photo: Barry Quick)
Background information
Birth name James Louis Chirillo
Born (1953-05-02) May 2, 1953 (age 65)
Waltham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Genres Jazz, big band, swing, classical
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1974 – present
Website james.chirillo.com

James Louis Chirillo (born May 2, 1953, Waltham, Massachusetts) is an American jazz guitarist, banjoist, composer, arranger, and band leader.[1] He grew up in Bellevue, Washington, and has been a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey since 1993.


Chirillo grew up in Bellevue, Washington. He studied music at University of North Texas College of Music, where in the fall of 1976, he was chosen to play in the One O'Clock Lab Band for the academic year. His major concentration was composition and he studied guitar with Jack Petersen.

After college, he studied composition and arranging with John Carisi and Bill Finegan. He also studied guitar with Remo Palmier and musicianship with Helen Jordan (1907–2006).[a][2][3]

From 1977 to 1979, he performed regularly with singers Marilyn Maye, Vic Damone, Joey Heatherton, Lorna Luft, and pianist Roger Williams. From 1979 to 1982, he was a member of The Jazz Knights, the band at West Point.

In 1982, he moved to New York City. He studied and performed with Tiny Grimes. From 1985–1986, he was a member of Benny Goodman's last band. From 1987–1991, he was a member of the Buck Clayton Orchestra and toured Europe in July 1991. He performed with Claude Williams in President Bill Clinton's inaugural festivities, with Bob Wilber and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Benny Carter, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis. From 1992–1999 he was a charter member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, directed by Gunther Schuller and David Baker.

Selected discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

  • Sultry Serenade (Nagel Heyer)

As member of the One O'Clock Lab Band

  • Lab '76[b]
  • Lab '77: All Cows Eat Grass[b]
  • Jazz at Spoleto '77
  • Lab '78

As sideman[edit]

With Benny Goodman

  • Let's Dance: A Musical Tribute (1985)
  • Live, State University of New York, (Jazz Heritage Society, 1986)

With Kenny Davern

  • Dialogues (2007)
  • At the Mill Hill Playhouse (2003)

With Houston Person

With Daryl Sherman

  • Hundred Million Miracles (2003)
  • Born to Swing (2002)
  • New O'leans, (Audiophile, 2008)

With Gil Evans Project, Ryan Truesdell

  • Centennial (ArtistShare, 2012)
  • Lines of Color, (ArtistShare/Blue Note, 2014)

With others

Published music and papers[edit]

Compositions and arrangements

  • Grainger Suite (on two of Percy Grainger's tunes, the Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol and Hill-Song No. 2 (2002)
  • Prelude to a Minor Insensitivity, a tribute to Bill Finegan
  • Valse Prismatique
  • Homage Concerto for Clarinet and Jazz Orchestra, Val-Doc Music (ASCAP) (c. 1996) written for Ken Peplowski and the Loren Schoenberg Jazz Orchestra
  • Manhattan Work Song, Loren Schoenberg Jazz Orchestra (1993)


  • James Chirillo, "Comments About the One-Note Chord Theory" (October 2002)


  • James Chirillo interviewed by Monk Rowe, New York City, January 12, 2007, Hamilton College Jazz Archive (DVD) (2007)


  1. ^ Helen Hobbs Jordan (1907–2006)
  2. ^ a b Following Lab '75's Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Performance by a Big Band, Lab '76, received a Grammy nomination for the same category. Both nominations represented the first bestowed by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) to student ensembles of any genre.


  1. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2nd ed.) (Chirillo is in Vol. 2 of 3), Barry Dean Kernfeld (ed.), Macmillan Publishers (2002); LCCN 2001-40794, ISBN 1561592846, OCLC 46956628
  2. ^ "Helen Hobbs Jordan, 99, Music Teacher to Generations, Is Dead," by Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times, April 28, 2006
  3. ^ "Devoted Students Rally to Help a Music Teacher," by Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times, January 19, 2005

External links[edit]