Photo by Sopon Suwannakit

Photo by Ines Kaiser

Composer, Arranger, Conductor and Educator

Grammy-nominated composer Richard DeRosa is currently the Director of Jazz Composition and Arranging at the University of North Texas and the Artistic Director for American Jazz Venues (AJV). Since 2012 he has conducted and arranged for the prestigious WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, and served as the band’s chief conductor from 2014-2016. Since 2001 he was arranged and conducted projects for Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Throughout his career, his compositions and arrangements have encompassed a vast variety of writing styles which have been heard on stages and in venues around the world, on television and in film, on and off Broadway, in videos, audio books and numerous CD recordings. “Neil”, his original work for big band garnered a 2015 Grammy nomination for “Best Instrumental Composition” and is featured on Lab 2015 recorded by the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band. In addition to his commissioned work writing and conducting and his teaching at University of North Texas, DeRosa is a published author and remains active as an adjudicator, clinician, and guest lecturer.

Grammy nominated for Best Instrumental Composition 2015

“Neil” is a composition written for Neil Slater, the director of the UNT jazz program and conductor for the world-famous One O’Clock Jazz Band from 1981 – 2008. I’ve known Neil Slater for almost 40 years.

“Fate connects us with special people. In music, our successful elders serve as models for inspiration. They show younger ones a path that may be taken for a personal career. When an older and wiser person bestows a personal interest in someone younger, a unique friendship evolves.

He began as a mentor but as time passed we became professional colleagues on the bandstand and in the classroom as well as dear friends. Since his arrival at UNT in 1981, he’s more than once encouraged me to join the program. Ironically, after his retirement in 2008, I joined the faculty in 2010. I haven’t regretted it – in fact, I love my job. So how do I sufficiently say “thank you” for all of the support I’ve felt from this man over the years? I’m sure there are many others who feel similarly; Neil’s twenty-seven years as the head of the jazz program at UNT have had a significant impact on many young musicians who aspire to be the best. The most meaningful thing I could think of was to write a composition and dedicate it to him. Neil and I both love Thad Jones’s composition “To You” for its soft and lush sound, beautiful melody, harmony, and sentiment. So my thanks to you, Neil, is written in the same spirit. Thank you – not only for our personal bond but also to acknowledge your great service to music education, and on behalf of so many UNT students who were under your tutelage. Keep on swingin’!”


Read the article about Rich DeRosa and “Neil” on


“I have heard a few of his charts played by the Mel Lewis band back when Brookmeyer was doing a lot of writing for that band. The charts I am familiar with are absolutely fantastic. He can take a jazz standard and make it as fresh as ever. That’s the sign of a great arranger I feel.”

Jim Martin,


“I get excited about young writing talents. Richie DeRosa is displaying great imagination and a very good sense of the instruments.” (1986)

Bob Brookmeyer, composer
“Special mention must be made of the unique arrangements by Dial, Oatts and Rich DeRosa, who also did the orchestration. They integrate the jazz quartet into the brass ensemble organically and seamlessly, making one homogenous sound. Only by playing these compositions over and over again can you really appreciate the careful craftsmanship of the arrangements, the subtleties of the voicing of the full brass team.”
Bill Spilka, The Brass Player

“I can’t put into words how much Rich means to me as a person and as a teacher. His passion for music comes through in his incredible knowledge of the craft of arranging and this is combined with his rare ability to pass on that information in a transformative way to his students. I have had the honor of studying with him for five years and my writing would be nowhere near where it is today without Rich’s guidance and expertise.

Drew Zaremba; recipient of Sherman – Barsanti Inspiration Award, DownBeat student award, ASCAP Young composers award, JEN Young Composers award, former student at University of North Texas


Big Band

Brass Ensemble with Jazz Quartet