Neighborhood: Manhattan (will travel)
Ages taught: 5-Adult
Levels taught: beg-adv


Jonathan Saraga is an internationally-acclaimed, New York City-based trumpeter, composer, arranger, producer, educator and Doctor of Musical Arts. He won the International Trumpet Guild Jazz Solo Competition in 2007 and competed as a finalist in the 2009 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition. He has been selected for multiple intensive and/or residency programs including the 2011 School for Improvisational Music Summer Intensive Program, the 2015 Banff International Summer Intensive Program in Jazz and Creative Music, the 2019 Banff Early Fall Musicians in Residence program and the 2021 Chashama chaNorth Artist in Residence program. Additional residency related accolades include finalist status in the 2021Haleakala National Park Artist in Residence program and waitlist status for the 2021 Millay Colony of the Art’s Core Residency program. Jonathan has also competed as a finalist in several jazz-trumpet vacancy auditions, namely for the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra in 2020, the U.S. Navy Band Commodores in 2021, and the Air Force Academy Band, also in 2021. In 2022, he became a selected member of the Recording Academy’s New Member Class for it’s New York Chapter.

Jonathan’s accolades as a composer/arranger include the 2016 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award, finalist status in the 2019 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant competition, semi-finalist status in the 2021 Unsigned Only Music Competition as well as five Semi-Finalist selections and one Honorable-Mention selection in the International Songwriting Competition between 2016 and 2017. In 2020, Saraga was chosen to present at the Association for Popular Music Education conference in Edinburgh Scotland, and at the International Society for Improvised Music conference in Melbourne, Australia. He has received Outstanding Performance and Outstanding Arrangement Downbeat Student Music Awards in 2020 and 2021 respectively, and was selected to participate in the 2020 and 2021 BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Jonathan has also received commissions and/or grants from the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers, United States Artists, the University of Colorado Boulder Music Advisory Board, the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the Actors Fund/Local 802 Musicians Union, the Jazz Foundation of America, the Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance, and the Recording Academy/MusiCares.

Dr. Saraga has played in internationally acclaimed ensembles such as Brass Against, the Maria
Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, the Birdland Big Band, the
Mingus Big Band, Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, the
Jimmy Greene Big Band, Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows Orchestra, the Terraza Big
Band, the Valery Ponomarev Big Band, Manuel Valera’s New Cuban Express Big Band, the
Samuel Torres Big Band, the Jihye Lee Jazz Orchestra, the Hyeseon Hong Jazz Orchestra, the
Tracy Yang Jazz Orchestra, the Erica Seguine/Shannon Baker Jazz Orchestra, the Migiwa
Miyajima Jazz Orchestra and Brass Against, as well as ensembles led by Tyshawn Sorey, Steve
Coleman, and Henry Cole.


To me, the entirety of a student’s experience in a creative music program should be holistic, whereby courses not only include elements of performance pedagogy, artistic development, and socio-cultural engagement, but that they also interact with each other, creating a curriculum that breaths and evolves. Finding ways to be of service to others is ultimately my goal as a human being, as a performer of music, and also as an educator. In the context of jazz academia, that approach translates toward helping a person reach their goals as a jazz artist and musician. Since many people have different ideas of what that looks like, I treat each engagement with each student uniquely, and find balance in teaching from a place of love and simultaneously high standards. Many greats have spoken the phrase ‘take care of the music, and the music will take care of you’, a phrase that includes both love and sacrifice. I have high standards for my students, because the world has high standards for those who wish to succeed, however I am as generous as possible with my time and knowledge, in order to help them meet those standards. To help instill this type of relationship with my students, rather than fostering an environment of pre-determined hierarchy between myself and them, I chose to co-create one with them, based on the sharing of mutually perceived values, concepts, and ideas. This non-fear-based approach to learning and career preparation caters to one my premier goals of teaching within academia—to prepare a student for the ‘real’ world, but with a humility that transcends the illusions of material or financial success.


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