Roger Aldridge

Genre: 

Maryland-based Jazz/CI Composer

Born in Kansas City, I discovered jazz as a child thanks to my mother’s collection of big band recordings. I started on alto saxophone when I was 9 and developed an interest in composition in my early teens. This led me to study composition & arranging at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

My training at Berklee included jazz theory & composition with Herb Pomeroy, John LaPorta, and Charlie Mariano; classical composition with William Maloof and John Bavicchi; and woodwinds with Joe Viola. After Berklee and serving in the Air Force (1968-71), I continued my composition studies with a B.A. from McKendree University (Illinois) and M.A. from Highlands University (New Mexico). At Highlands, I was a graduate teaching assistant to ​Dr. Champ Tyrone and director of the university's jazz ensemble.

In the course of working as a composer, arranger, music director, and educator I discovered that I could adapt the analytical skills that I developed as a composer and use them in software development. This offered a greater financial stability for my family. Making a career change, I worked as an analyst and team leader at Southwestern Bell, Bell Atlantic, Fannie Mae, and DecisionPath Consulting for 34 years. Due to a busy work and family schedule I was away from music for 12 years.

A business transfer from Missouri to Maryland in 1983 set the stage for new developments in my music. When I started to compose again in 1989 much of the music was directly inspired by my life in Maryland and the natural beauty of this region. I also began to explore an interest in fiddle music after hearing old-time fiddle players in West Virginia. It was easy for me to envision Appalachian music as an early branch of the jazz family tree.

In this new phase of my music I focused on composing tunes for 19 years and did not return to writing ensemble scores until 2008. As the music evolved it drew upon many genres (sometimes intertwined in unusual ways) and expressed a quirky sense of humor, expanded harmonic colors, and a fluid approach to time. In hindsight, it is clear to me that I needed to live in Maryland and West Virginia in order to write this music.

More than 600 pieces were composed from 1989 to 2010 as I balanced family, work, and music. I retired from my systems career in 2011. Since then, new composition projects and collaborations have taken the music to an international audience.