Dick Poccia - saxophone

Reedman Dick Poccia has played in jazz groups in Western Massachusetts for 30 years, recording with the Valley Big Band, Jeff Holmes Big Band, and the Lowe-Jaffe Repertory Big Band and the Monadnock Chorus. He is currently a member of the Amherst Jazz Orchestra, Lowe-Jaffe Big Band, Secondary Messengers, Creacion Latin Big Band, Reflections Chamber Jazz Trio, Moment's Notice and the Eclectic Jazz Quartet and also plays with the Berkshire Jazz Underground and Interplay. He has performed in back up bands for the Temptations, Ernie Watts, Claudio Roditi, Yusef Lateef, John Abercrombie, Steve Turre, Al Cohn, Peter Erskine, John Fedchock, Karrin Allyson, Sheila Jordan, Amanda Carr and the Ringling Brothers Circus. He has twice toured Russia playing in Moscow and at the White Nights Jazz Festival in St. Petersburg. He has performed at Sculler’s, the El Morocco, Sandy’s, Berklee School of Music, the Philharmonic Jazz Center in St. Petersburg, the Estrada State Theater in Moscow, and DOCKS television program in Lisbon. He has played with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Festival Orchestra with Gunther Schuller at Amherst College, the swing big band The Abletones, The Valley Jazz Divas and the Afro-beat band Fenibo. He was guest soloist with the La Forza Chamber Orchestra in Phoenix in 2013 performing Frank Darmiento's Concerto for Jazz Quintet and Orchestra.  He has gigged locally with numerous musicians including baritone sax great Gary Smulyan and many singers including Marion Groves, Ann Maggs, Jill Connolly, Carol Abbe Smith, Vivian Caputo and Barbara Ween.

He began studying classical clarinet at the age of 8 with the gift of a metal clarinet from a cousin and instruction from his godmother's son, a high school student.  At age 10 he began lessons with the high school band director in Utica, NY performing Mozart and Brahms sonatas locally and in state competitions. He joined the high school band at age 12.  At 14 he acquired a tenor saxophone that belonged to an uncle and began to play jazz in the high school dance band and with friends.  In college, he co-founded the Union College Jazz Workshop with quintet and big band.  After graduation, he ceased performing for 12 years, resuming when two of his science students at Amherst College encouraged him to play with the college jazz ensemble.

A Professor of Biology  and of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Amherst College, he holds a degree in chemistry from Union College (NY), MA and PhD degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley in Zoology.  In addition to his science teaching, he has for many years taught a freshman seminar called Thinking Through Improvisation.

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