Instructor of Jazz Studies
Rob Alley is not only one of the most in-demand trumpeters in the southeastern US, he is also an award-winning composer, arranger, improvisor, educator, and over-all, one of the most diverse musicians in the region. He lives in and outside of musical convention, depending on his collaborators.
As a trumpet player, Rob has performed and/or recorded professionally with the following artists:
Yo-Yo Ma, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dave Douglas, Paul Shaffer (David Letterman’s Habitat for Humanity Benefit), Jason Isbell (The Ryman Auditorium, video recording for PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center and live audio recording Live from Alabama), St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Patti Austin, Byron Stripling, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The O’Jays, Frankie Valli, The Tuscaloosa Symphony and Brass Quintet, The Huntsville Symphony, The Arkansas Symphony, the Arkansas State University Faculty Brass Quintet, the University of Alabama Faculty Brass Quintet, The New South Jazz Orchestra, Downright, The Tuscaloosa Horns, The Chad Fisher Group, FisherGreen, Rick Carter’s LOLA, The Birmingham 7, The UA Faculty Jazz Quintet, The Night Flight Big Band…
Alley’s own varied ensembles are also in demand. An Alabama Songbook, Solid Sender, Mingusphere, Brass X, Sound Conspiracy, The Rob Alley Trio and Quartet, The Alley/Doyle Duo, The Alley/Mayor Duo, and he co-leads Tuscaloosa’s only New Orleans jazz band, The Voodoo Saints. Among many professional honors of which he is proud, a highlight was his quartet’s inclusion in UNESCO’s International Jazz Day 2014.
Alley’s interdisciplinary pursuits include a highly-acclaimed tap/trumpet duet with his wife, Stacy Alley. They have performed internationally, from Alabama to Chile, and at the 2014 Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. He also continues an improvisation co-operative with UA Dance professor Sarah Barry’s modern dance classes. And in 2013, he began collaborating with percussionist/composer/DJ John Scalici, which has seen them perform at events including Alys Stevens Center’s 2013 and 2014 Light Dreams Festival with visual artists John and Katie Gaiser.
Highly regarded as a composer and arranger, in 2008 Rob was a recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council’s Individual Artist Fellowship Grant for his composition “12 for 3”. In 2013 he was awarded the Alabama State Council on the Arts’ Individual Artist Fellowship Grant, through which he created “An Alabama Songbook”, an expression of selections from Byron Arnold’s collection Folk Songs of Alabama. In 2014 he was arranger and music director for UA’s production of Shakespeare’s 12th Night featuring The Voodoo Saints. In March, Rob was recognized as the 2015 Druid Arts Musician of the Year.
Thoroughly committed to passing on the gifts that he has been given, Alley is a sought-after educator and consultant whose pedagogical philosophy can be summed up as “A responsibility not only to train musicians, but to help a wide variety of people develop into better human beings through explorations in music.” To this end, he founded Improvise Life, a program based on the philosophy and techniques of improvisation and jazz culture. He contends that these principles and philosophies can help any individual or group of people function in the world more effectively and effortlessly. They can aid in team-building, increase leadership skills, help businesses innovate, help build functional interpersonal skills and relationships, aid in drug and alcohol recovery; ultimately, they provide incalculable benefit to all cooperative and creative human endeavors.
He also teaches these concepts as a faculty member at the University of Alabama, his alma mater. He teaches private lessons, ensembles, and a variety of fundamental jazz courses in the Jazz Department, and the University Honors College invite him to teach two courses of his own creation: “Leadership Lessons Learned through Jazz” and “Improvisation in Life”.
Rob lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with his wife, Stacy, and daughter, Evy.
Equally important to his multi-faceted career, driven by the need to incorporate a multitude of disparate influences into his own work, Rob has founded many different ensembles. They include:
An Alabama Songbook: The Rob Alley Quintet featuring Jil Chambless.
Exploring the timeless and universal qualities of folk songs collected by Byron Arnold in his legendary Folksongs of Alabama, Rob breathes contemporary life into new arrangements in This Alabama Council on the Arts-supported project. Inspired by Rob’s love for both Bill Frisell and Dave Douglas’ music, these pieces are designed with maximum flexibility and ample room for improvisation from the quintet. Renowned vocalist Jil Chambless anchors the material with her unique interpretations of these beloved tunes. The quintet features Alley (trumpet), Gary Wheat (tenor sax), Matthew DeVine (keyboards), Aaron Goldberg (acoustic bass), and Michael Glaser (drum set).
Solid Sender: An improvisational quintet making sounds inspired by late 60s/early 70s Miles and the NYC super-group Sex Mob, with directions in music by Rob Alley. And grooves. Yes, grooves. Lots of them. Deep ones. Alley plays trumpet with loops/effects and cue cards, two Fender Rhodes pianos, an electric bass, and drum set.
Mingusphere: founded in 2004 in Birmingham, Alabama as a tribute to the jazz innovators Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk. Mingusphere is Alley (trumpet), Chad Fisher (trombone), Chris Kozak (bass), and Michael Glaser (drum set).
Brass X: performs a wide range of original music, contemporary arrangements of current jazz composers, and ethnic music. Texturally, Brass X is an exploration of the addition of non-brass instruments to traditional brass groupings.
The Rob Alley Sound Conspiracy: conceived of mainly as a means to perform his original compositions as well as works by the vast compositional talent that is present in the Southeastern US. The instrumentation is as varied as are the compositions.
He is a founding member of the improvisation collective Mean Smoker with keyboardist Matthew Devine and New York City-based drummer Jay Frederick.
The Sound Conspiracy and Mean Smoker allow Rob the opportunity to explore his passions for both electricity and the trumpet through the use of pedals and laptop technology.
The Rob Alley Quintet and Trio, The Rob Alley/Derek Doyle Duo, and The Rob Alley/Pedro Mayor Duo afford Rob the opportunity to maintain and hone his fluency within the traditional jazz canon.
Recordings (partial list)
The Birmingham Seven, Second Set (2014)
Downright, Lightheaded (2013)
The Birmingham Seven, self-titled album (2012)
Live from Alabama, Jason Isbell (2012)
Hell, Soundtrack, off-Broadway production (2012)
Noel Johnson, self-titled album (2012)
Armand Marjeca, self-titled album (2012)
Sam Gunderson, self-titled album (2012)
The Chad Fisher Group, Tribute to Hank Williams (2012)
FisherGreen, Keep It Together (2012)
The Chad Fisher Group, Strange Waters (2011)
Royal & Toulouse, Southern Circus (2011)
Matt Jackson, Know Your Ways (2011)
The Chad Fisher Group, Cinematic (2007)
The Chad Fisher Group, Dog Parade (2006)
Heath Green, self-titled album (2006)