In 2016, veteran vocalist, trumpeter and flugelhornist Rob Zinn launched an exciting new phase of his distinguished, multi-faceted career, emerging as an internationally recognized independent smooth jazz artist and composer with his critically acclaimed albums Walk The Walk (2018) and Yesterday Again (2016). Walk the Walk was selected for the 61st Grammy Ballot for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Rob’s latest album, Anything Can Happen, was released on April 7, 2023. Once again working with producer Paul Brown, as well as first time collaborations with producers Greg Manning, Roberto Vally, Jeff Canady, John Cassidy, Dennis Johnson, and Adam Hawley. The latest album is heavy on contemporary grooves, Rob Zinn style, with a few surprises thrown in and features an all-star list of musicians such as Paul Brown, Jeff Ryan, Greg Manning, Andrew Neu, Ragan Whiteside, Blake Aaron, Eric Valentine, Sean Uliasz, Tom Schuman, Roberto Vally, Bob Baldwin, Lew Laing Jr., Adam Hawley, Jeff Canady, Chris Fischer, and Carlyle Barriteau. Songs from the album received airplay on over 125 smooth jazz stations around the world with a listening audience of 154 countries.
Zinn, an endorser of Chicago based Phaeton Trumpets released his sophomore album, Walk The Walk in April 2018. Produced by 2-time Grammy winner Paul Brown, Walk The Walk is an explosive collection of a multitude of styles that Zinn has performed over the years, including funk, Latin, R&B, rock, pop and urban jazz. In addition to showcasing his infectious songwriting and versatility on horns, it included guest appearances by East Coast based genre great Andrew Neu (saxophones) and West Coast great Michael Paulo (saxophones) and of course Paul Brown’s tasty guitar licks on several tracks.
Rob’s songs have charted top 50 on such prominent outlets as the Billboard Smooth Jazz National Airplay and Audience charts, America’s Music Chart powered by mediabase, the Smooth Jazz Top 50 Album chart, Smooth Jazz Radar chart, Smooth Jazz Indie chart, Smooth Jazz Network Top 100 chart, Groove Jazz Music Chart Top 30 and the RadioWave Internet Play chart and received “Most Added” designations on Nielsen/Billboard numerous times. Zinn has performed at numerous jazz festivals such as the Mallorca Jazz Festival, Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival, Intimate Smooth Jazz Festival, Lake Arbor Jazz Festival, Berks Jazz Festival, Sandy Shore’s Jazz Weekender, Sweet Jazz Festival and the Jazz Legacy Foundation Jazz Festival as well as venues throughout the country. When not playing with his own band, Rob often appears as a sideman with guitar player and double Grammy winner Paul Brown.
Born in Maryland, grew up in Delaware and now living in Florida, Zinn brings to his solo artistry a dynamic history as an ensemble performer and popular sideman. While performing in his high school jazz band and in the college jazz band at the University of Delaware, he “cut his teeth” and began his professional career with a prominent 15-piece swing band. Playing with them from the ages of 17 to 25, he performed hundreds of gigs throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware at top venues, big band society dances and numerous special occasions.
Zinn then joined the horn section of the heavily booked 7-piece dance party band Group Therapy, which performed heavy jazz and funk (from Tower of Power to The Brecker Brothers) everywhere from outdoor concerts and country clubs to state fairs and 800-1000 seat venues, opening for, among others, legendary acts like The Spinners, Kool & The Gang, Tower of Power and Average White Band. During his stint with this ensemble, Zinn expanded his repertoire to include lead and harmony vocals, keyboards and percussion.
While playing regularly with the swing band and Group Therapy, Zinn also gigged with Just Friends, a hip big band that played the music of Buddy Rich, Hank Levy and Maynard Ferguson; and the Brian Pastor Big Band, which performed hip big band music by everyone from Buddy Rich to contemporary master and multiple Grammy winner Gordon Goodwin.
Zinn later exercised his blues chops with Delaware Rock & Roll Delaware Hall of Fame band Rockett 88 and with The Jimmy Pritchard Band, which represented the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation and competed in the annual Memphis based competition, the International Blues Challenge. Performing with both groups at various blues festivals gave the trumpeter a taste of what he is now enjoying as a leader in his own right. Over the years, he has free-lanced with many area bands and occasionally participates in tribute shows (The Beatles, George Harrison, Bruce Springsteen) at World Café Live and The Queen in Wilmington. Zinn has also played at the venue’s annual Shine the Light shows, which feature tributes to single years in pop music and raises money for music programs for underprivileged students.
Though there were no professional musicians in his immediate family, Zinn’s grandfather was a semi-pro trumpeter, so it made sense for him to carry on in that tradition when he began playing at age 9. His parents were big music lovers, and he grew up surrounded by the traditional sounds of Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Frank Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Al Hirt and Johnny Mathis. His two older sisters introduced him to the Beatles and later on his own he discovered Steely Dan, Tower of Power, Chicago, Maynard Ferguson and Chuck Mangione, while also playing along to Herb Alpert records. He added flugelhorn to his arsenal when he was a 3-time selection to the all-state jazz band in high school.
With all those musical experiences paving the way, Zinn is excited about the fresh opportunities coming his way that will allow him to continue performing his own music for a rapidly growing fan base. “It is amazing to be able to take these ideas rolling around in my head, commit them to a demo, and then be part of the process of bringing a fresh composition to life with amazing musicians,” he says.
“The most gratifying thing, though, is playing my songs live. It’s great being a working musician interpreting other people’s compositions, but there’s nothing like making meaningful connections with my own music.
I want people to feel something when I play, feel the emotion in what I’m expressing – whether it’s through the melody, chords, or performance – and to create a special moment in time for them. That’s the ultimate for me.”