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Canadian Heritage

Roberto Occhipinti


ROBERTO OCCHIPINTI (bassist, producer, composer) was born on March 25, 1955 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, into a musical family that includes guitarists Michael (his brother) and his cousin David. He began studying at the University of Toronto under Thomas Monohan in 1972, and also regards Dave Young and Joel Quarrington as significant career mentors. He is widely regarded as one of Canada’s premier bassists, comfortable in a wide variety of musical contexts, and conducting successful careers in both classical music and jazz.

He has toured and recorded extensively with pianist Hilario Duran, saxophonist Jane Bunnett, and his brother Michael’s JUNO Award-winning band NOJO, performing at Canadian jazz festivals with the legendary saxophonist Sam Rivers, and ‘Soul Stew’. His own recording career began in 2001 with his nonet comprising Canadian and Cuban musicians, followed by a 2003 release featuring a 13-piece ensemble, and in 2006, an ambitious recording featuring 22 jazz musicians, string quartet, and the Globalis Symphony Orchestra.

As a classical musician, Roberto Occhipinti has performed with virtually every classical music ensemble in Toronto and has been a member of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic, and the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra. In the field of contemporary music, he was principal bassist with the Esprit Orchestra for eight years, a member of Arraymusic for more than two decades, and performed with New Music Concerts.

As a producer, Occhipinti has worked on projects for the Gryphon Trio, Shurum Burum Jazz Circus, QuartettoGelato, Soul Stew, and Hilario Durán with whom he continues to collaborate. He has toured with EMI recording artist Gorrilaz and performed with Damon Albarn's Mali Music at the Barbican in the U.K. He has performed in concert for the BBC and MTV, and also served as music director, supervisor, and contractor for numerous feature films, live stage shows, and commercials.

Roberto’s prolific output includes the Juno nominated 2009 releases “A Bend in the River” and the “The Almond Sorters” by The Sicilian Jazz Project, co-lead by his brother Michael as well as producing Dave Young’s “Mean What You Say”.

2001 – JUNO Award Winner as a member of Jane Bunnett’s ‘Spirits of Havana’ for ‘Best Global Album’ (‘Alma de Santiago’)
2005 - National Jazz Awards winner as 'Acoustic Group of the Year' ('Roberto Occhipinti Band')
2005 – JUNO Award Winner as Producer of Hilario Duran’s ‘New Danzon’ recording
2005 - National Jazz Awards winner as 'Producer of the Year'
2005 – Bassist (with NOJO and Sam Rivers) on JUNO Nominated ‘City of Neighbourhoods’ CD (True North)
2006 - National Jazz Awards winner as 'Jazz Producer of the Year'
2006 – SOCAN AWARD Recipient for the ‘George Shrinks’ Cartoon Series