John Arrucci is an acclaimed master artist. He has composed, performed and instructed for over 30 years. He has studied on three continents, written for all mediums, and received numerous honors. His intimate knowledge of Classical, Jazz, North Indian, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian and other indigeneous traditions gives him–and his audiences–a singularly rich perspective on the creation and impact of music.
His work as drummer and percussionist is featured on scores for feature films, television and on over eighty recordings including on Sony, Polygram, Mercury, Chesky, Koch Jazz, Chiaroscuro, Rykodisc and other labels as well as performances throughout the United States, Europe and Brazil. He has performed and/or recorded with Michael Brecker, John Patittucci, Gil Goldstein, David Byrne, Livingston Taylor, Mariah Carey, Larry Goldings, Richard Bona, Stefon Harris, Marvin “Smitty“ Smith, Chief Bey, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, Philip Glass Ensemble, Eddie Henderson, James Genus, Gene Bertoncini, Donna Summer, Adam Rogers, Will Lee, Joan LaBarbara, Linda Eder, Carlinhos Brown, Mike Richmond, Gary Versace and Oliver Lake on Drumset, Congas, Vibes, Shekere, Marimba, Berimbau, Udu, Timpani, Bongo, Tabla, Cuica and more. His percussion work on television and radio includes music for programs including the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Oprah Winfrey Show, Rosie O’Donnell Show, People are Talking, BS of A and commercial spots for American Express, AT&T, Bermuda tourism, Boeng, Budweiser, Chase, Chemical Manufacturer’s Association, Cheerios, Clairol, Club Med, Coca-Cola, Country Time Lemonade, Coppertone. Crunch n’ Munch, CVS, Diamonex, Delta, Evony, Embassy Suites, Five Brothers Select, Grape Nuts, Hawaiian Punch, Iams, Jaguar, Lever 2000, Lucky Strikes, Martini and Rossi, Master Card, MSG Network, Mobil Oil, Nascar, Perrier, Pepperidge Farm, Pepsi, Poloroid, Prodigy, Prudential, Reebok, Replense, Saab, Samsung, Secret, Sears, Snapple, Sol Beer, Squirt, Super Bowl, Tone Soap, Tribal Dream, Twin Lab Vitamins, Tylenol, Urban Fetch, UPS, USPS, Under Armour, Victoria’s Secret and Volvo.
Arrucci graduated with distinction from Eastman School of Music. The Smithsonian Institution awarded him a post-Doctoral level research fellowship to study Tabla in Benares, India with Pandit Sharda Sahai. This was followed by a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship to study music in Brazil, where according to the Tribune of Bahia he “inﬂuenced the explosion of Bahian music”. He also studied Shekere and Agbe with the renowned Chief James Hawthorne Bey and Conga and Afro-Cuban drumming with one its leading exponents, Frank Malabe.
Princeton University was Arrucci’s classroom home for over 20 years, where he educated, inspired and engaged thousands in the art of percussion and composition. He has lectured and conducted master classes at Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, University of Colorado in Boulder, Wichita State University, University of Bahia in Brazil, The National Theatre of Namibia, Union Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary and other prominent institutions.
His compositions have been performed around the world, and he has been commissioned by members of the New York Philharmonic, the Manhattan Marimba Quartet, Mannes College of Music and a notable list of other patrons.
John has performed in such notable venues as:
Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center “Out of Doors”, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Town Hall, Merkin Hall, United Nations, Symphony Space, Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, The Village Gate, La Mama, Mikell’s, The Bottom Line, The Knitting Factory, Teatro Castro Alves (Bahia, Brazil), Winnipeg Folk Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, Montreal “Just por Rire” Festival, Festival D’ete International De Quebec, 1st annual world conference on Orisha Tradition and Culture in Bahia, Brazil, Barcelona Festival, The Triplex Theatre/BMCC, The New York Society for Ethical Culture, Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre, Cleveland Summer Festival, Dance Aspen Festival, Caribbean Cultural Center and the Prospect Park Band Shell (Brooklyn).
Additional performance credits with ensembles include:
Improvisational Minds w/Bevan Manson, Ed Neumeister, Michael Patterson and Dennis Dreith), Viva Brasil Dance Company, Jelom Viera’s Dance Brasil, Roots of Brasil Dance Company, Mabou Mines, Boston Musica Viva, Les Miserables Brass Band, Marimolin, The Composer’s Ensemble at Princeton, The Richardson Chamber Players, Manhattan Marimba Quartet, Cleo Awards, June Opera Festival of New Jersey, Body Cast, Princeton University Jazz Faculty, Joseph Papp’s “Festival Latino”, Kubata.
John’s initial exploration into world music traditions, while studying at the Eastman School of Music (1976-80), only served to fuel his fire. He would often seek out recordings from around the world including music from India, Nigeria, Bali and Cuba. These experiences broadened his concept of music and filled him with the desire to study other traditions. So much so, that he was inspired to live and study in India and Brazil (1981-84).
In 1986, John was invited to join the music faculty of Princeton University as a guest lecturer in the composition department and as percussion instructor. He remained there until 2010 and enjoyed his role as teacher to Doctoral students in composition as well as undergraduate students.
In April of 1988, John was commissioned by the Manhattan Marimba Quartet to arrange 12 compositions by Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal. Two of these were performed with John’s participation at a Villa Lobos celebration at Merkin Concert Hall in New York and broadcast live on WNYC radio’s “New Sounds” program. Subsequently, all of his arrangements were performed with John playing drums and percussion in 1988 at a series of concerts at “La Mama” performance space in New York City. Also in 1988, John was commissioned by Christopher Lamb, Principal Percussionist with the New York Philharmonic to write two works for Marimba and Piano. The compositions were given their world premiere at the opening of the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway in 1989 and have had numerous performances since.
In 1990, John returned to Brazil to teach a three-week course on Percussion. He was greeted with newspaper articles in A Tarde and Jornal da Bahia heralding his return to Brazil and citing him as a musician who had “influenced the explosion of Bahian music” during his stay in 1983-84.
In May of 1994, seven of John’s new compositions; Metaphors, Miro’, Before Sleeping, Stars, Menachem, Southwest and Ballad #1 were presented by his ensemble at the Taplin Auditorium at Princeton University.
In December of 1997, “Metaphors” won second place in the Jazz category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, an international competition with over thirty thousand entries. This was very gratifying since three of his other compositions had made it into the top fifty finalists. In 1999, John received a Decentralization grant to present his music in Putnam County. In September of that year, he premiered new works for 5 1/2-octave Marimba, Classical Guitar and Flute at two concerts. Following these concerts he was commissioned by Poet Dick Altman to write a new work for the same trio. This composition in three movements was entitled “In Oaxaca” and was inspired by the yearly “Day of the Dead” celebration of Oaxaca, Mexico as well as by Dick Altman’s poetry.
In 1999 and 2008 John received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts to present new works in concert. Also in 2008, “Meet the Composer” awarded John with a grant to discuss his music in a public forum.
In 2002 he was asked to contribute a recording of his composition “Rose and Spring” to be included on a double CD collection entitled “We stand as One World”. The CD was released in 2002 to raise funds for the victims of the World Trade Center attack. The Mannes College of Music Percussion Ensemble premiered his composition “String Theory” for percussion quartet, on April 30, 2002.
In November of 2002, the Wichita State University Percussion Ensemble premiered his composition “Birth at the Convergence”. John traveled to Wichita, Kansas for the premiere and presented three Master Classes at the University. Both the composition and master classes were very well received.
Harpist Elaine Christy commissioned John to write a new work for solo Harp in 2008.
As a partner in Star Music Group, John has been composing music for film. Most recently, his music was featured in the film “Perhaps Tomorrow” and one piece was presented in “The Camera’s Eye”. He has begun work on the music for a new Eric Roberts film.
In December 2011, John Released the CD “Metaphors” containing 9 original compositions.
John’s group has been performing in concerts with the participation of Tim Armacost, Scott Robinson, Marc Mommaas, Don Braden, Dave Riekenberg, Drew Gress, David Finck, Dave Anderson, Jon Burr, Jerome Harris, Gary Versace, Jared Gold, Kyle Koehler, Ron Oswanski, Rob Aries, Joe Basar, Luke Franco, Gilad Hekselman, Peter Brendler, Bob Meyer, Tony Kadleck and Ron Horton.
In 2016, John was commissioned to write a new work for wind ensemble entitled “Crystalline” which received a premiere performance in April of 2017.