Joseph "Joe" Riposo is a saxophonist, composer, arranger, and was an educator at Syracuse University. He was the Director of Jazz Studies at Syracuse University and also directed the Morton B. Schiff Jazz Ensemble. He has played with many prominent jazz artists such as Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, the Mcguire Sisters, the Woody Herman Band, Jackie Leonard, Diane Schuur, Harry Connick Jr., and Natalie Cole. In addition, Riposo has been a conductor for many jazz ensembles with notable guest artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Phil Woods, Marvin Stamm, Glenn Drewes, Darius Brubeck, Nick Brignola, and Bob Kindred.
Riposo has a long history in the Syracuse area. He grew up in Syracuse as a clarinetist but quickly moved to saxophone and other various woodwind instruments. Riposo went on to study music at Syracuse University and graduated in 1957. After graduation, he became a member of the U.S. Army Band at Fort Dix, a US Army base located just south of Trenton, New Jersey. While there, he toured with the band throughout the First Army Area. He also became the Chief Instructor in the School of Music. During this time, Riposo was also touring internationally with the Woodland Quartet. In 1960, he returned to Syracuse in order to pursue a career in music education. Riposo is now listed in Wikipedia encyclopedia as an America 's Jazz Saxophonist and as America's Jazz composer.
Education and career
Riposo is the fourth son of an Italian concert master and pianist. His older brother Michael, d. 1992, and his other siblings all grew up in a house with classical and popular music. Michael began performing at age 12 as an accordion player in silent movie theaters in New York City. His father, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrants, made an income as a mason. Nevertheless, he imparted his own love of music to his five children.
Michael, also a pianist, formed his own music studio in the late 1930s, taught, and began a recording career that spanned seven decades. In later years, he was considered a preeminent master in post-production work, recording (Ripposo Studios) many of the most popular (over 4000) artists, musicians and entertainers over the 1940s - 1970s decades, also writing and producing thousands of advertisements, ads, and musical accompaniments. He also wrote several hundred songs and filed thousands of copyrights.
Brother Tony Riposo, another noted jazz musician and teacher, became the musical director/arranger for the Maguire Sisters for more than thirty years, along with numerous other Las Vegas musicians and performance groups before retiring and returning to Syracuse, where he still performs with his brother Joe. He also performed in a role he created for a popular Central NY children's show called "Magic Toy Shop" where he played a clown who "talked only in music" so that children would focus on the music itself. See: http://surface.syr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1050&context=libassoc All three brothers were original members of the Syracuse Symphony, formed in the early 1960s, and later installed as local Hall of Fame awards in 1987. Two other siblings, Sam and Rosie, have passed.
Joe Riposo served as the director of music education for the Liverpool Central School District for 31 years. Riposo was for 28 years the Director of Jazz Studies at Syracuse University. He was also the president of the International Association of Jazz Educators (New York State unit) as well as the North Eastern Division Coordinator for the International Association of Jazz Educators. In addition, he has played the role of jazz coordinator and clinician for the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) and holds certification as a woodwind and state jazz adjudicator for the NYSSMA association. Riposo retired from the Liverpool Central School District in 1991.
Riposo’s education spans farther than the students with which he interacts. He has published over 50 books, all of which focus on developing not only jazz technique, but a jazz language. His book “Jazz Improvisation: A Whole Brain Approach” uses research in “hemisphericity” or lateralization of brain function to teach jazz improvisation. He is a contract writer for four publishers: Walrus Music, E -Jazzline, Increase Music, and Jamey Aebersold Jazz. Up to date Riposo has four books published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz: Bebop Scales, “Jazz Scales and Patterns in all Keys, Target Tones and approach Tones, “Shaping Bebop Lines”, Developing A Jazz Vocabulary, “The Language of Jazz”, and Making A Connection With Your Saxophone, “ Teaching with a Focus on Learning to Play Jazz”.
Riposo is an active performer, composer, arranger, and clinician. He plays in the Salt City Jazz Collective at the Syracuse Suds Factory, a bar and restaurant located in Syracuse’s Armory Square. One of his most recent projects includes an original jazz composition commissioned by the Mellon CNY Humanities Corridor and the College of Arts and Sciences of Syracuse University.
Awards and achievements
- Presidential medallion for his contributions to the NYSSMA organization
- Outstanding Jazz Educators Award from the National Band Association
- American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Award (fifteen years in a row)
- Served The National Music Foundation as an educational advisory council
- 1992 honored by the State of New York Legislative Resolutions, one for his contributions to Music Education
- 1997 Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMYS) Hall of Fame inductee
- 2003 Fine Arts Hall of Fame inductee
- 2008 Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation Jazz Educator of the Year
- 2009 “Jazz Legend of Upstate New York”
- 2011 SAMMYS Music Educator Hall of Fame inductee
- 2012 honored by the State of New York Legislative Resolution for his life time achievements as a musician and teacher by Senator John DeFrancisco.