Although highly rated by Woody Herman (who called him "the last of the Four Brothers") and Benny Carter, and a strong hard bop-based improviser, Mark Vinci is far from a household name at this writing. He started on piano when he was five, switched to sax two years later. At 11, Vinci was working as a professional (having already joined the union and started gigging locally). The following year he was a soloist with the Ohio All-Star High School Band. When he was 16, and attending a Stan Kenton summer clinic, Vinci was told by Kenton that when he was older he was going to join his band. Unfortunately, Kenton died before that could happen. He attended Bowling Green State University on a bassoon scholarship, played with Marian McPartland and soon transferred to North Texas State University for a year. After returning home, Vinci joined the Glenn Miller Ghost Orchestra with whom he toured for two and one-half years. When he came off the road, he played in Cleveland for a few months with organist Eddie Baccus and then became a member of Woody Herman's Thundering Herd, staying with Herman for two years (1981-83). Vinci settled in New York and freelanced, playing with many top musicians including the Gerry Mulligan Orchestra, Mel Lewis' Vanguard Orchestra, Joe Lovano and Rosemary Clooney, having opportunities to sit in with Benny Carter and Zoot Sims. After being the lead altoist with Maria Schneider's Jazz Orchestra for five years, he joined John Fedchock's New York Big Band. As a leader, Mark Vinci has recorded for Flat Cat and Iris (1995's Grand Slam and 1998's As I Think About You). In addition, he is on the faculty of Skidmore College and the New School in New York City.
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