Sam’s Resume

Trombonist, Lower Brass Player, Composer, Arranger, Educator

Education: Ithaca College, 1963-1965, majoring in tuba and composition.
Berklee School of Music, 1966-1968, trombone and composition major.
Moved in 1969 to New York, after short stints w/ Buddy Rich and Woody Herman, and has since been a busy freelance musician specializing in recording, jazz, and the musics of Latin America as a trombonist, bass trombonist, tubist, composer and arranger. He also studied with the renowned brass teacher Carmine Caruso for over 15 years.

Currently: Trombonist, soloist and composer/arranger w/the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, a band that has been appearing every Sunday night for fourteen years at Birdland in New York City .

Lead trombonist and soloist w/The Mambo Legends, a 21 piece ensemble that is dedicated to playing, further developing and preserving the authentic New York City styles of latin music that were established by such great bands as the Tito Puente, Machito and Tito Rodriquez Orchestras.

Lead trombonist, soloist and arranger w/the Mike Longo New York City State Of The Art Big Band.

Trombonist and Transcriber/Arranger with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, directed by David Baker. Mr. Burtis has been a member of the orchestra since its inception in 1991 under the direction of both David Baker and Gunther Schuller. He plays bass trombone, valve trombone and tuba w/the orchestra as well as tenor trombone.

Work history: 1993-1995: The original Music Director (providing many of the arrangements and transcriptions and acting as conductor), lead trombonist and a featured soloist of the Charles Mingus Big Band.

1989-1996: Trombonist and arranger/composer for the Tito Puente Latin Jazz Ensemble and the Tito Puente Orchestra.

1975-1980: Bass trombone, tenor trombone, tuba and arranger/composer w/The Lee Konitz Nonet.

1973-1977: Lead trombone w/the Bill Watrous-led big band, Manhattan
Wildlife Refuge.

A partial list of other well-known artists with whom he has worked since coming to New York would include:

The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Band /Vanguard Orchestra
Eddie Palmieri
Charles Mingus
Dizzy Gillespie
Gil Evans
Quincy Jones
Dave Mathews
Jimmy Knepper
Dave Taylor
Roswell Rudd
The Duke Ellington Orchestra
Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
Larry Harlow/Latin Legends
The Alegre All Stars
The Fania All Stars
Ruben Blades
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra
John Abercrombie
Carla Bley
Chuck Isreals
Willie Colon
Edy Martinez
David Sanborn
Randy Brecker
Michael Brecker
Eumir Deodato
Britt Woodman
John Faddis
The Count Basie Orchestra

He was also a featured soloist and member of the 36 piece orchestra that premiered Charles Mingus’s Epitaph at Lincoln Center and later toured Europe, Russia, and the United States under the direction of Gunther Schuller and was a first-call player during the busiest years of the commercial studio scene in NYC, including playing and soloing on literally hundreds of recordings for Fania Records during the booming salsa years.

Mr. Burtis has performed on innumerable commercials, records and in at least forty Broadway and off-Broadway shows during his time in New York, has been associated with both the New School and The Mannes School of Music in New York City, Prince Klaus Conservatory (Groningen, Holland), Lehigh University and the New Jersey Performance Arts Center/Jazz For Teens program as a brass and music theory/composition/American musical idioms teacher, has taught many private students both individually and in clinic situations, and has (most often under the web name of Sabutin) contributed hundreds of columns and posts on advanced techniques of playing the trombone to his own sites The Open Horn (a pan-brass discussion forum) and SamBurtis.Com, plus The Trombone Forum , The Online Trombone Journal and The British Trombone Society Forum. His first trombone method book, The American Trombone (published in 2002) was received with great enthusiasm by literally thousands of trombonists and his new book, Time, Balance And Connections-A Universal Theory Of Brass Relativity (Trombone Edition) which was published in 2009 can be ordered directly from him at his website. Further editions for valved instruments in treble and bass clefs will soon follow.

Sam plays S.E. Shires trombones exclusively, encouraged Steve Shires to start producing sub-.547 bore instruments, helped him when Steve started designing them and often appears at conventions and festivals at the Shires exhibit.

In view of his extraordinarily wide range of experience both as a performer and as a composer/arranger/music director in so many idioms, Mr. Burtis can teach trombone, lower brass, brass, Jazz and Latin ensembles, the history of Jazz and Latin music, theory, harmony, composition, studio and professional performance techniques and improvisation, as well as appearing with and writing for student ensembles in concert. For further information please call (718) 796-4413 or email him at

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