Composer, Trombonist, Educator
Trombonist and composer Alex Heitlinger serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz and Contemporary Performance at Utah Valley University. Dr. Heitlinger has been leading bands and composing original music for over a decade. His 2004 debut album, Green Light (Synergy Music) was named one of the top albums of the year by jazz radio legend Bob Parlocha and received extensive national radio airplay. “With a foot firmly planted in modern post bop, Heitlinger's writing for this sextet demonstrates a keen sense of interplay for the front line, as he develops themes that are just as often about intertwining contrapuntal lines as more straightforward harmony,” writes John Kleman of All About Jazz. After moving to New York later that year, Heitlinger began working with a new band and establishing a more adventurous compositional approach. Grammy-nominated composer Darcy James Argue described this new group as "...very much in the exploratory spirit of Booker Little's amazing early 1960's sextet... melodic and sonorous, full of appealing hooks and rich harmonies." In 2008, they released The Daily Life of Uncle Roger. “Heitlinger’s elaborate, richly lyric tunes give each improviser plenty to chew on. Each tune contains numerous, discreet episodes and plenty of harmonic movement. But his dense arrangements, which convey a much larger sound than you’d expect from a sextet, guide the listener through each section with an abundance of sonic warmth,” writes Pete Margasak of Downbeat. Three compositions from this album received ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards.
In 2009, Heitlinger moved to Boston to study at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he received his M.M. in Jazz Composition, studying with Frank Carlberg, Anthony Coleman, Charlie Banacos, and Dominique Eade. In 2011, he moved to Austin, Texas where he completed a D.M.A. in Jazz Composition from the University of Texas at Austin. While studying, he premiered numerous new compositions and arrangements with the University of Texas Jazz Orchestra, including a 2014 arrangement for saxophonist Joshua Redman, and served as Assistant Instructor of Jazz Studies.
In 2011, Heitlinger gained worldwide attention by creating the popular YouTube video, The Lick, which now has nearly 500,000 views. From 2012-2015, he led the Urban Achievers Brass Band, a successful nine-piece ensemble specializing in New Orleans inspired arrangements of pop tunes.
In addition to his work as a bandleader, Heitlinger has performed with numerous internationally recognized jazz artists, including Art Lande, Joshua Redman, John Clayton, Maria Schneider, Jim McNeeley, Ray Anderson, Bob Brookmeyer, Gunther Schuller, Richie Cole, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Alex Sipiagin, Richie La Bamba, Lenny Pickett, Teo Macero, and Rosemary Clooney, and has played with some of the world's premiere big bands, including Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the Birdland Big Band.
He has also been privileged to perform with bands specializing in a variety of other musical styles. While in New York, he performed regularly with Wayne Gorbea's Salsa Picante, Ochun, Choco Orta, Jose Pepito Gomez, and Lisandro Arias, including performances in France and Germany. He was also a frequent sideman with Azouhouni Adou's Afroyorkers, joining the band for performances in New York and the Ivory Coast. In 2008, he began performing as a frequent substitute with the Balkan brass band Slavic Soul Party, joining them for performances across the United States and Canada. In 2011, Heitlinger performed on Everything is Saved, the critically-acclaimed debut album by indie folk rock band David Wax Museum. The band was featured later that year at the Newport Folk Festival. In 2013, he co-produced jazz trumpeter/composer Matt Holman's debut album When Flooded, released on the Brooklyn Jazz Underground label. The album received 4 stars from Downbeat.
While living in Austin, Heitlinger performed as a sub/sideman with Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma/Brownout, the University of Texas Faculty Jazz Combo, Mike Sailors Big Band, Dave Madden, The Motts, Memphis Train Revue, The All Nights, Jazz Bonez, The Vintage 15 Big Band, Thrift Set Orchestra, and many other fine bands.