Roccisano received his BS in music education from SUNY-Potsdam in 1963. In 1964 he played in the Tommy Dorsey orchestra under Sam Donahue, then moved to Los Angeles, where he played with Don Ellis (1966–68), Ray Charles (1967-68), Louie Bellson, Lew Tabackin, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Terry Gibbs, Don Menza, Bill Holman, and Don Rader. He assembled his own 15-piece ensemble, Rocbop, in 1976, and played in the Capp-Pierce Juggernaut in 1981. He later formed his own big band, the Joe Roccisano Orchestra, which released two albums during the 1990s. The musicians joining him in this band included Bill Charlap, Bud Burridge, Jack Stuckey, Franck Amsallem, Jim (James E. Pugh), John Basile, Ken Hitchcock, Lou Marini, Matt Finders, Robert Millikan, Scott Lee, Terry Clarke, Tim Ries, Tom Harrell, Scott Robinson, and Greg Gisbert.
Roccisano also had extensive credits as an arranger, including with Ellis, Bellson, Doc Severinsen, and Woody Herman. He scored the tune "Green Earrings" on the 1978 Herman album Chick, Donald, Walter, and Woodrow, and was nominated for a Grammy award for the arrangement. He composed "Tenors of the Time", a tune recorded by Pete Christlieb and Warne Marsh. One of his most popular arrangements co-written by Pete Christlieb and played by the Louie Bellson Big Band as well as the Buddy Rich Big Band was "Hookin' It" (See Buddy Rich DVD "Live At The Montreal Jazz Festival" 1982)
- 1993 – The Shape I'm In, by the Joe Roccisano Orchestra (Landmark Records 1535)
- 1995 – Leave Your Mind Behind, by the Joe Roccisano Orchestra (Landmark Records 1541)
- 1998 - Nonet, by the Joe Roccisano Nonet (Double-Time Records 138)