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Frank Macchia

Frank Macchia Frank Macchia

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Frank Macchia started on the clarinet at the age of 10 years old. Soon afterwards he began taking lessons to play the bassoon, saxophone, and flute. By the age of 14, he took his playing a step further by studying composition, thereby enabling him to write jazz and classic pieces for his high school band, plus he composed scores for orchestras and local jazz ensembles. He referred to these jazz ensembles as "casual" bands that he rehearsed with at the Union Local 6. One of these jazz ensembles included trumpeter Mike Vax’s Big Band.

He told, "I also put together a kind of ‘all-star’ student big band in high school with friends from different high schools throughout the city. We'd meet once a week and work on Don Menza, Bill Holman, and Don Ellis charts. I was so young and naïve, I didn't realize how hard this music actually was to play! San Francisco also had a great summer public school music program called the Summer Music Workshop, which went on for six weeks during the summer and we played all kinds of music. [For] The last two weeks, the San Francisco Symphony came onto the school premises and gave us one-on-one instruction and put on concerts. I even composed a piece called ‘Variations on a Theme’ for a jazz quartet and 12-brass which we performed with the San Francisco Symphony's brass section. That was a true highlight for me as a 15-year old kid, to hear pro brass players play my music!"

From 1975-76, Macchia wrote classical jazz pieces for the San Francisco Symphony to perform, as well as jazz/funk/rock hybrids that were played by local professional jazz musicians. He additionally composed and conducted an orchestral overture for his high school graduation ceremony. During this time, he performed and arranged music for contemporary dance bands in the Bay Area.

In 1976, Macchia attended Berklee College of Music, studying woodwinds with Joseph Viola, Joe Allard, Steve Grossman, and composition/arranging with Herb Pomeroy, Phil Wilson, Greg Hopkins, Tony Texiera, and Ken Pullig. From 1976-80, he performed and composed for the top student ensembles as well as performing with his own ensembles. He received a National Endowment Grant for the Arts to compose a 90-minute continuous jazz/classical suite for large ensembles.

He expressed about his Berklee professions to, "These teachers were tremendous and really helped me forge my musical identity. I also got to play in Herb and Phil's big bands, along with some amazing players like Eric Marienthal, Ralph Moore, Tim Horner, Tommy Campbell, Eric Gunnison and Eric Daniels. I also played with some guys who are really becoming legendary players today such as Wayne Krantz, Steve Hunt, Kevin Eubanks, and Marvin Smitty Smith."

Macchia went on to win Down Beat magazine’s DB Award for original big band composition in 1979. After graduating with a degree in traditional composition, Macchia taught at Berklee at the tender age of 20, as well as performed throughout the New England area with his 8-piece fusion group, "Booga-Booga."

He recalls about this time, "It was an amazing time as fusion music was at it's zenith in those years 1976 to 1980, and we were all checking out Weather Report, the Brecker Brothers, Chick Corea, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and trying our hand at this new fusion music."

In 1983, Macchia moved back to San Francisco where he continued working as a musician and composer/arranger over the next ten years, which included performing concerts with such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Rita Moreno, Tony Bennett, Jack Jones, Clare Fischer, Chuck Mangione, and the Temptations, to name a few. He performed with local groups such as The Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, Mike Vax’s Great American Jazz Band, Royal Street, the Dick Bright Orchestra and the Melotones. He also led his own original groups, including The Gleets, Desperate Character and The Frankie Maximum Band.

In 1989, he recorded his first solo album, Introducing Frankie Maximum, an eclectic CD that showcased original material in a variety of styles from new wave, jazz, pop/rock and even polka. He followed it with his second solo effort, Frankie Maximum Goes Way-er Out West, a wild romp through traditional cowboy folk songs done with new treatments, such as "Ringo" as a hip-hop jazz tune. This album received much critical praise including being named one of the top ten albums of the year by the Oakland Tribune.

In 1991, Macchia toured Germany performing in West Side Story and 42nd Street, and when that tour ended, he found himself in Los Angeles in 1992, where he has remained ever since and developed a repertoire as being a film composer. He composed and released a demo of film-themed songs entitled, Little Evil Things, which would become his resume into the film industry.

He told that "Little Evil Things began as a demo CD idea that I thought of when I was beginning to get work as a film composer. A lot of producers ask for a demo reel of films that you have worked on as a composer. The problem for me was that I didn't care for many of the early films I worked on, as they were low budget, badly acted or badly films projects." He relates, "That's what you do when you generally get started as a film composer, so that's just the way it is. However, I knew that if a director or producer saw this terrible film they would probably get a negative vibe even if the music had been composed by God, because of the bad production qualities of the film. So, I decided that instead of a demo video reel, I'd do a demo audio reel but include stories acted out by actors. I had always been a fan of horror and thought of the old Inner Sanctum and Lights Out shows that early radio theatre did, so I co-wrote with my wife Tracy a series of short horror stories and then recorded the actors performing the story. Then, I timed and composed a continuous music soundtrack to coincide with the storyline and boom - Little Evil Things started. I got a few gigs after doing the first one on some low budget horror films."

Since then, he has worked as a composer/orchestrator on many films and television projects, including Superman Returns, The Fantastic Four, The Fantastic Four 2: The Rise Of The Silver Surfer, The Guardian, Pirates Of The Carribean 3, The Bee Movie, X2-Xmen United, Men of Honor, National Teasure: Book Of Secrets, Austin Powers Goldmember, The Contender, The Simpson Movie. Dreamgirls, Transformers, and television shows Night Visions, Nickelodeon’s Oh Yeah cartoons, Disney’s Oliver Twist, and the Tonight Show.

In 2003, Macchia returned to putting out solo albums. He completed his CD, The Galapagos Suite, based on the sounds of the animals of the Galapagos Islands where he and his wife Tracy visited. His following CD, Animals remained in this vain and was released in Fall 2004, featuring Frank on multi-woodwinds with a roster of some of Los Angeles best musicians. His last CD in this series of jungle noises/farm animals entitled Mo’Animals featured Billy Childs, Vinnie Colauita, Howard Levy and many other great jazz musicians. These CD’s made way for Macchia to attend the Sundance Composers Lab in 2004.

In Winter 2006, Macchia completed his solo album Emotions, a CD featuring the Prague Orchestra and showcasing Macchia’s tenor saxophone skills. The album shows Macchia’s ability to create mood pieces exuding of intense expressions and masterful fluidity through the tiers of rhythm sections and horn and string arrangements. In 2008, he released another CD that he recorded with the Prague Orchestra entitled Landscapes. The album is loaded with scenic ambient-jazz molds and orchestral tones that he says, "I simply wanted to get in touch with the spiritual side of how music touches us and also depict a place or feeling."

Frank Macchia currently lives in Burbank, California with this wife, Tracy and son, Charlie. He remains open to composing music for films and television series, as well as recording more solo albums. His eyes are focused on the future, always looking for more ways to be involved in its ever-changing frames.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Frank Macchia
  • Subtitle: Looking To The Future
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