I think that jazz is a succession of very strong individual personalities. What we can do is carry on that tradition.”

Mike Melito has been a mainstay on the upstate music scene for over three decades now. Born into a very musical family, there was little doubt he would become a professional musician. He started sitting in on his father’s gigs at 14 yrs old which provided him with a lot of early experience. His first jazz gig came at age 16 playing with vibraphonist Joe Locke who was living in Rochester at the time. The great saxophonist Joe Romano was in the club that night and immediately hired Mike for a month-long stint at the now-defunct Lloyd’s in Rochester. From there, work started coming in, playing jazz gigs with Bill Dobbins and then traveling to Syracuse and Utica to work with legendary saxophonist JR Monterose and trumpeter Sal Amico among others. Mike considers these experiences alone to be priceless as some of these guys worked with Mike’s heroes such as Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Buddy Rich, and Kenny Clarke.

He continued to freelance and started leading his own groups in the 90’s around town. Over the years, Mike has backed such legends as James Moody, Benny Golson, and Barry Harris. Other names he has worked with are Eric Alexander, Vincent Herring, David Hazeltine, Peter Bernstein, Steve Davis, Danilo Perez, Benny Green, Harry Allen, Ken Peplowski, Gary Smulyan, Pat LaBarbera, Don Menza, John Swana, Bootsie Barnes, Richie Cole, Walt Weiskopf, and many others.

Mike has been the house drummer of The Rochester International Jazz Festival since it started backing many artists from out of town and being a part of guitarist Bob Sneider’s Trio along with bassist Dan Vitale.

He has also had a large private teaching studio over the years and teaches on his own and is on the faculty of The Eastman Community Music School and RAMP in Fairport. He has also done masterclasses at many high schools and colleges.

Mike has recorded seven CD’s as a leader and is on over 30 recordings as a sideman. His recordings have caught the ear of Downbeat magazine which did a feature article on him. His recordings continue to get airplay all over the world.

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