"Javier is a complete musician. The total package."
Javier Arau (born September 30, 1975) is an American composer, saxophonist, conductor, theorist, author, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and executive director of New York Jazz Academy, a popular New York City music school, leads the Javier Arau Jazz Orchestra, and is the author of several works on music theory and improvisation. Arau has been featured in The New York Times and DownBeat Magazine and was the cover artist of the July/August 2009 Saxophone Journal. His compositions have received awards from ASCAP, BMI, DownBeat Magazine, and IAJE, and are published by UNC Jazz Press and Dorn Publications. An internationally award-winning saxophonist, Arau is an artist-endorser of Virtuoso Saxophones and has served as an adjudicator for the MTNA National Woodwind Chamber Music Competition finals. Javier's treatise on Augmented Scale Theory was presented at the 2009 International Jazz Composers Forum, and he has taught at New England Conservatory and Lawrence University. Javier studied with composer Bob Brookmeyer, theorist George Russell, and saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi. Arau currently resides in New York City with his wife and two daughters.
"Those who we remember best--Bach, Telemann, Vivaldi, Haydn and Mozart--did it all. Today there are very few who do it all, and an incredibly small proportion of them do it all extremely well. One who does is Javier Arau."
Javier Arau (born September 30, 1975) is an American composer, saxophonist, conductor, theorist, author, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and executive director of New York Jazz Academy, a popular New York City music school, leads the Javier Arau Jazz Orchestra, and is the author of several works on music theory and improvisation. Arau has been featured in The New York Times, DownBeat Magazine, and was the cover artist of the 2009 Saxophone Journal. Javier's compositions have received awards from ASCAP, BMI, DownBeat Magazine, and IAJE, and are published by UNC Jazz Press and Dorn Publications. An internationally award-winning saxophonist, Arau is an artist-endorser of Virtuoso Saxophones and has served as an adjudicator for the MTNA National Woodwind Chamber Music Competition finals. Javier's treatise on Augmented Scale Theory was presented at the 2008 International Jazz Composers Forum, and he has taught at New England Conservatory and Lawrence University. Javier studied with composer Bob Brookmeyer, theorist George Russell, and saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, who claimed "Javier is a complete musician. The total package".
Arau's entire life experience has revolved around an insatiable curiosity for what makes music work. As early as age 7, while growing up in Sacramento, California, he began composing his own music. By the time Javier was 14, he had made his national debut, conducting the Florida State University Wind Ensemble in a Washington, D.C. performance of his first symphonic composition, Second Wind.
By age 15, Javier had opened his own private teaching and recording studio, mentoring young musicians and writing theme and incidental music for syndicated radio. Local mentors took an interest in his growth, and Javier honed his skills playing in late-night jam sessions at Sacramento's Bull Market jazz club and other venues, in addition to performing regular private and public concerts.
By the time Javier had graduated high school, he had toured the world with various ensembles, including the Monterey High School All-Star Jazz Band, traded fours with Dizzy Gillespie on the main stage of the Monterey Jazz Festival, and appeared as a guest artist on the Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club, where his band was inducted into the Mickey Mouse Club “Hall of Fame”.
Pianist Dave Brubeck, particularly interested in helping the development of students who showed promise in both composition and performance, personally funded a significant portion of Javier's tuition at Lawrence University, in Appleton, Wisconsin, where Javier earned Bachelors degrees in music theory-composition and economics. While attending Lawrence, Arau studied with saxophonist Steve Jordheim and composers Ken Schaphorst and Allen Gimbel.
As a member of the Lawrence University honors saxophone quartet, he won first place in the MTNA National Collegiate Chamber Music Competition. He also received Down Beat Student Music Awards in both jazz composition (for his big band composition "Southland") and jazz saxophone. At age 19, his transcription and analysis of Joe Henderson's Grammy award-winning solo on Lush Life was published in IAJE’s Jazz Educators Journal, which became widely regarded as the definitive transcription of that iconic performance. Henderson, then based in San Francisco, got word of Javier's efforts and quickly became a mentor to him.
After Lawrence, Javier moved to Boston to study with saxophonists Jerry Bergonzi and George Garzone and composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer at the New England Conservatory of Music. While at NEC, he received two more DownBeat Magazine awards for jazz composing and arranging, and he also had the opportunity to learn from the great theorist and composer George Russell (Lydian Chromatic Concept), playing lead tenor in his orchestra and studying privately with him. Javier also served as a substitute teacher for Bergonzi and other professors and also began work as the personal music copyist for bassist Cecil McBee. While at NEC, Javier received two more DownBeat awards for composition (for his big band work "Natural Selection") and arrangement (for his version of Benny Golson's "Killer Joe"). He received a Master of Music degree in jazz composition from NEC in May 2000, graduating with honors and distinction. Brookmeyer wrote, "Arau does it as well as anyone I have ever heard".
In 2001, Javier moved to New York City. Since then, other awards and honors Javier has received include the first-ever ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award, an honorable mention for the IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, two nominations for the BMI Charlie Parker Composition Award, and Lawrence University’s “Service to Society” alumni award.
Arau has received commissions and performances of his works from, among others, the legendary Benny Golson, David Garibaldi (Tower of Power), and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra (Kent Nagano, dir.). His works for saxophone have been commissioned by Joe Luloff, Steven Jordheim, Janet Planet and Planet Sax, and more. He is a former member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, directed by Jim McNeely, and has written for many genres, including works for jazz orchestra, symphony orchestra, concert band, jazz singers, sax quartet and ensemble, jazz septet, concert choir, microtonal ensemble, contemporary ensemble, electronica, musical theatre, and songs for children, and his music for film has been distributed through the Discovery Channel. Javier's Jelly and Jam Session, his extensive music outreach program, was licensed by the NYC Department of Education to be used in the public school music curriculum.
Arau is commissioned regularly by college and high school band programs throughout the country. Commissions have included works for the Lawrence University saxophone ensemble (Appleton, WI), the CSU-Sacramento band program, the Walt Clark middle school concert band (Loveland, CO), the Rio Americano high school wind ensemble (Sacramento, CA), and the NEC Jazz Composers Big Band (Boston, MA). Other professional work has included collaborations in musical theater, cabaret, and children’s theater; and film work with directors/producers Albert Masyles, Joyce Chopra, cinematographer Anastas Michos, screenwriter Malia Scotch-Marmo, and actress Alexis Dziena.
Current projects include writing new works for jazz orchestra, concert band, and saxophone ensemble. His Crab Canon for Infinite Saxophones was premiered at Lawrence University in May 2007. Javier’s song, “A Hero’s Light,” a tribute to the victims of 9-11, was most recently arranged for solo voice and concert band by famed composer Claude Pichaureau and was showcased by France’s Coups de Vents as one of 2007′s most notable concert band compositions. Javier’s works continue to be performed in new music festivals and music camps across the country. Several of his big band compositions and arrangements are published by UNC Jazz Press as his works for saxophone are published by Dorn Publications.
As a saxophonist, Javier performs regularly in New York City, playing concert, jazz, and popular music. He is the house saxophonist at St. Bartholomew’s Church, one of Manhattan’s premier classical music centers, and he has performed at a variety of clubs and halls, including Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the Knitting Factory, Detour, the Triad, the Remote Lounge, Donnell Library, and Siberia Bar. Javier has performed with the Euphonique Saxophone Quartet, Dead Cat Bounce, the Javier Arau New Jazz Quartet, and many other ensembles.
His most recent project includes the Javier Arau Jazz Orchestra, a 20-piece big band featuring many of New York’s brightest players.
Active and influential as an educator, Javier actively maintains a private saxophone and piano studio, and he enjoys teaching students of all ages and abilities. Arau was the sabbatical replacement for Steven Jordheim at Lawrence University in 2003 and 2007, when he held visiting lecturer positions teaching classical and jazz saxophone, saxophone quartet, and an interdisciplinary seminar on Schenkerian theory as applied to jazz improvisation. He also formerly taught advanced jazz theory and jazz ensembles at the New England Conservatory and has served as a guest clinician at school band programs in California, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. Arau has written several books on music theory and pedagogy and has served as a contributor to Jazz Educators Journal and Yankee Magazine.
Also an active author, Javier has been researching and developing ways to teach jazz harmony and to demystify the improvisational process. He presented his paper, Jazz Line and Augmented Scale Theory, at the 2008 International Jazz Composers Symposium in Tampa, Florida. His Augmented Scale Theory helps bridge the gap between the chromatic tendencies of modern jazz and the diatonic roots of traditional jazz harmony, enabling the improviser to play creatively over such challenging material as Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and Wayne Shorter classics. His most recent book, a practice manual for all instruments, 365 Ways of Practicing Major Scales in Thirds is available in bookstores nationwide. Javier is currently writing a book entitled Anatomy Of A Melody: A Jazz Improv Primer for All Instruments.
In 2009, Javier founded New York Jazz Academy, with a mission devoted to helping aspiring musicians of all ages and levels learn from mentors while fostering a community of like-minded musicians. What began with five students in the summer of 2009, NYJA grew quickly. Now, the school serves hundreds of students around the world, operating with multiple locations in NYC and Long Island, in addition to online classes through NYJA Online.
Arau currently resides in New York City with his wife and two daughters, the youngest of whom just lost her first front tooth.
Composer | Saxophonist
- New England Conservatory
- M.M., honors/distinction, jazz composition, 2000
- Principal Instructors
- Bob Brookmeyer, comp, 1998-2000
- Jerry Bergonzi, sax, 1999-2000
- George Russell, theory, 1999-2000
- Lawrence University
- B.M., cum laude, theory-comp, 1998
- B.A., cum laude, economics, 1998
- Principal Instructors
- Allen Gimbel, comp, 1995-1998
- Ken Schaphorst, comp, 1993-1998
- Steven Jordheim, sax, 1993-1998
Lawrence University Alumni Association "Service To Society" Alumni Award Recipient, 2013
DownBeat Magazine Featured Artist, 2011
Saxophone Journal Cover Artist, 2009
Presenter, International Center for Jazz Composition Convention, 2008
- Finalist ASCAP/IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, 2007
- Nominee BMI Charlie Parker Competition, 2006
- Winner ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, 2002 (2004 finalist)
- Winner Down Beat Magazine Award – composition/arranging, 1997/2000
- Winner MTNA National Chamber Music Competition (Sax Quartet), 1997
- Berkeley Symph. Orch., Kent Nagano, dir.
- Florida State University Wind Ens.
- Lawrence Univ. Symphony Orch.
- Monterey Jazz Fest H.S. All-Star Jazz Band
- CSU Sacramento Jazz Ensemble
- Benny Golson
- David Garibaldi and Talking Drums
- Lawrence University Concert Choir
- Rio Americano H.S. Concert Band
- KFIA Radio/Buttersnack Films
- Edwige Perfetti, soprano
- Sonora Chamber Ensemble
- Lawrence Univ. Sax Ensemble
- Dorn Publications, composer, 2007
- UNC Jazz Press, composer, 2005
- Yankee Magazine Contributor, July/August 2001
- Jazz Educators Journal “Joe Henderson’s tenor saxophone solo on ‘Lush Life.’ transcription and analysis” March 1996
- Performances with Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Chico O’Farrill, Steve Lacy, Charlie Haden, Maria Schneider, Bobby Shew, Richie Cole
- Performances in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, New York, California, Florida, Boston, Chicago
- Piano/Sax/Clarinet: Monterey, Montreux, North Sea, Sacramento Jazz Festivals
- Piano/Sax/Clarinet: Private events (weddings, parties, hotels, etc.)
- Saxophonist: Clubs/Concert Halls worldwide
- Symphony Orchestra
- Chamber Ensembles
- Saxophone Quartet
- Percussion Ensemble/Duo Percussion
- Concert Choir/Vocal Quartet/Solo
- Contemporary Ensemble
- Microtonal Ensemble
- Electronics (Synthesizers, Sampling)
- Founder/Executive director, New York Jazz Academy – 2009-present
- Music Instructor – piano, sax, clar, comp – Private studio, all ages, 1991-present
- Lecturer in Music – saxophone – Lawrence Univ., WI, 2007
- Music Instructor – piano, sax, clar, flute – Opportunity Charter School, Harlem, 2006
- Lecturer in Music – saxophone – Lawrence Univ., WI, 2003
- Music Instructor – piano, flute – Garden School, Queens, 2001-2003
- Class intructor – Graduate Jazz Theory – New England Cons., 2000-2001
- Ensemble coach – Bergonzi Ensemble – New England Cons., 1999-2001
- Ensemble coach – McBee Ensemble – New England Cons., 1999-2001
- Ear-training inst. – advanced music theory – Lawrence University, 1996-1998
- Guest clinician – comp, improv, perf – Schools/camps, 1993-present
2013 Lawrence University Alumni Association "Service To Society" Alumni Award
2013 ETM Composers Grant Panelist
2012 Adjudicator, MTNA National Chamber Music Competition
2011 DownBeat Magazine Featured Artist
2010 Keynote Speaker, American Society of Hand Therapists National Convention
2009 Saxophone Journal Columnist
2009 Saxophone Journal Cover Artist
2008 Presenter, International Center for Jazz Composition Convention
2007 Finalist, ASCAP/IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship
2007 Visiting Lecturer in Music, Lawrence University
2006 Nominee, BMI Charlie Parker Composition Competition, “Spirit Processional”
2005 Jazz Big Band scores accepted for publication with UNC Jazz Press
2004 Finalist, ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award
2004 Cited as one of Lawrence University’s “Notable Alumni”
2003 Visiting Lecturer in Music, Lawrence University
2002 Winner, ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award
2001 Contributor, Yankee Magazine, July/August 2001
2000 Winner, Down Beat Magazine Award, extended original composition
2000 Winner, Down Beat Magazine Award, jazz arrangement
2000 M.M., with honors and distinction in performance, NEC
1999 Benny Golson, featured performer, Killer Joe arr. Javier Arau
1999 Featured Composer, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Kent Nagano, dir.
1999 NEC Beneficent Society Scholarship
1998-2000 New England Conservatory, Dean’s List
1998 New England Conservatory Merit Scholarship
1998 B.Mus./B.A., with honors, Lawrence University
1998 Winner, Lawrence Commencement Concert Auditions
1997 Winner, Down Beat Magazine Award, extended original composition
1997 First Prize, MTNA National Collegiate Chamber Music Competition
1997 Winner, Lawrence Contemporary Music Ensemble Composition Contest
1997 Featured Composer, Festival of New American Music, CSU Sacramento
1997 Works performed: Monterey, Montreux, and North Sea Jazz Festivals
1997 James Ming Scholarship in Composition
1997 Fred Herbolzeimer Scholarship in Jazz Studies
1997 Pi Kappa Lambda Jazz Composition Award
1997 Pi Kappa Lambda Composition Award
1997-1998 Chair, Dean’s Advisory Council, Lawrence Conservatory
1996 Outstanding Jazz Performer, Down Beat Magazine Award
1996 Tenor saxophonist, Wisconsin Collegiate All-State Jazz Ensemble
1996 James Ming Scholarship in Composition
1996 Fred Herbolzeimer Scholarship in Jazz Studies
1996 Dave Brubeck Jazz Scholarship
1996 Pi Kappa Lambda Composition Award
1996 Winner, Lawrence Concert Choir Composition Contest
1996 Hon. Mention, Wisconsin Alliance for Composers composition contest
1996-1998 Advanced Saxophone Quartet Studies program, Lawrence University
1995 Contributor, Jazz Educators Journal, Joe Henderson, March 1995
1994-1998 Lawrence University Dean’s List
1994-1997 Lawrence Conservatory Performance Award
1994 Member Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Gamma Zeta Chapter
1993-1997 Lawrence Heritage Scholarship, for academic achievement
1993 Most Outstanding Soloist, Reno International Jazz Festival
1993 Outstanding Tenor Saxophonist, Monterey Jazz Festival
1992 State Finalist, National PTA Reflections contest
1991-1993 Saxophonist, Monterey Jazz Festival All-Star Jazz Band
1991 Most Outstanding Soloist, Sonoma Jazz Festival
1991 Inductee, Mickey Mouse Club Hall of Fame
1991 Featured performer, The Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club
1990 MENC Young Composer Award
1990 Runner-up, Sacramento Family of the Year