Ed Tomassi

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"I teach a lot of things by ear—improvisation concepts, balancing solos, different harmonic and melodic concepts. There is a key to teaching improvisation. There are five elements: melody, harmony, form, rhythm, and color. Out of those five elements, I teach different concepts, so the students get a well-balanced diet of solos, so it doesn't sound like they're just concentrating on one element. Some students are more crafted in certain areas, in form or harmony. They may need more melody or more color. It all depends on the individual."

"I have them do a lot of transcribing. In Harmonic Considerations—I co-authored that class back in 1979—the kids get a lot of the history of jazz, a lot of transcription, a lot of improvisation concepts."

"I've had some great students. Donald Harrison, Greg Osby. Branford Marsalis played in my big band. Kurt Rosenwinkel. Jacky Terrasson. All these kids were my students. It's unbelievable!"

"Back then, Berklee was a little more jazz-concentrated. Now, it's a little more diverse. A lot more diverse, actually. Students like so many different styles of music, which is great."

Career Highlights


  • Diploma, Berklee College of Music
  • Studies in composition and arranging with Charlie Banacos, George Coleman, and Dave Liebman
  • Performances with Vic Damone, Gloria Loring, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Temptations
  • Performer and leader with various popular and jazz groups