Emerging jazz trombonist Melissa Gardiner has been described by Curtis Fuller as technically creative and emotionally powerful. Her improvisation is inspiring and motivating for the listener, and she draws you in with a raw expression that directly relates to life experience.
Currently based in Syracuse, NY, Gardiner is the jazz trombone instructor at Cornell and Syracuse University. As a bandleader, she performs regularly with her jazz organ trio, MG3, and has an album out entitled Transitions, featuring soulful jazz standards and original compositions. She is a member of the CNY Jazz Orchestra and R&B soul band, The Blacklites, and frequently joins Sophistafunk, E.S.P., and Rochester-based group Paradigm Shift. Gardiner is very active in theater as a pit orchestra musician and has also worked with Carnival Cruise Lines and the Disneyland All-American College Band.
Most notably, she has shared the stage with several legendary musicians including Aretha Franklin, Geri Allen, Wycliffe Gordon, Steve Turre, Gerald Wilson, and Patti Austin.
Embodying the concept of artist as citizen, Gardiner aims to re-connect jazz music to the community, and create an environment of mentorship where students and professionals can make music together. This is accomplished in the form of regular weekly jazz jam sessions, and with Second Line Syracuse, a brass band that Gardiner formed, that performs at a variety of events and in spontaneous neighborhood parades. In just one year of existence, Second Line Syracuse has built an impressive resume so far, working with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, gaining grant funding for community and educational events, and winning the 2015 Syracuse NewTimes award for Best Jazz Band.
Gardiner received her master’s degree in jazz performance at The Juilliard School where she studied with Steve Turre. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree at The University of Michigan where she studied with Dennis Wilson(jazz) and David Jackson(classical). Former teachers also include Bill Harris, Curtis Fuller and Wycliffe Gordon.
Gardiner is a member of The Professional Musicians of Central New York Local 78 AFM.