He is a trombonist born in Detroit, Michigan, who grew up in San Rafael, California, and took his first studies with his father, who was a professional trumpeter. His mother was also involved in music and was a singer. He graduated high school at sixteen and joined the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. In 1976, he enrolled in the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he would study for four years. While still in school, he landed a spot in the Philadelphia Orchestra, as second trombone. He played for four seasons with them and then became Principal Trombone of L’orchestre symphonique de Montreal. In 1985, he occupied the Principal Trombone chair of the New York Philharmonic, and has played with them ever since.
Other groups with whom he has worked include: the Alabama Symphony Orchestra; the Canadian Brass; the Colorado Symphony Orchestra; the Columbia State University Wind Ensemble; the Hague Philharmonic; the Hartford Symphony; the Helsinki Philharmonic; the Imperial Brass Band; the Lincoln Symphony; the London Symphony Orchestra; the Mannheim National Theater Orchestra; the Maria Schneider Orchestra; the Nagoya Philharmonic; the National Repertory Orchestra; the National Symphony of Taiwan; the New Trombone Collective; the New Japan Philharmonic; the Orchestra of Teatro Massimo Bellini; the Puerto Rico Symphony; the Santa Barbara Symphony; the Seoul Philharmonic; the South Dakota Symphony; the Summit Brass ensemble; the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra; the University of New Mexico Wind Symphony; the U.S. Army Band; the U.S. Marine Band; the U.S. Military Academy Band; the Village Vanguard Orchestra; and, the Virginia Symphony.
In 1990, he debuted as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic in a performance of Paul Creston’s “Fantasy for Trombone”. He premiered Christopher Rouse’s “Trombone Concerto” in 1992, and it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993. In 1999, he made another debut, of sorts: The debut of the Alessi Seminar, a workshop for trombonists that includes master classes and recitals.
He won the ITA Award in 2002, the highest honour given by the International Trombone Association. In 2007, he premiered the “Trombone Concerto” of Melinda Wagner, in tandem with the New York Philharmonic. He taught a master class at the Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australia, on 23rd March 2008. In 2009, he participated in Slide Factory in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, with a performance of “Wind’s Dance” by Nicola Ferro. On 17th February 2010, he performed in concert at the Franz Liszt Music Academy, which is located in Budapest, Hungary.
His recordings include An American Celebration; Beyond the End of the Century; Bone-A-Fide Brass; Collage; Fandango; Four of a Kind; Four of a Kind 2; Illuminations; Just for Fun, New York Legends; Return to Sorrento; Slide Area; Song of Exuberance; Trombonastics; Trombones Under the Tree; and, Visions of Light.
The Principal Brass of the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra recordings
Canzon in Double Echo (Giovanni Gabrieli)
Arranger – Arthur Frackenpohl