John D'earth

Senior Lecturer, Director of Jazz Performance

Trumpeter and composer John D'earth is the Director of Jazz Performance at the University of Virginia  where he teaches improvisation, jazz trumpet, jazz composition, and directs the UVA Jazz Ensemble.

D'earth was born in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1950. He studied, as a teenager, with saxophonist Boots Mussulli, (Stan Kenton, Charlie Ventura, Teddy Wilson) with John Coffey, (principal trombonist in the Boston Symphony) and arranging with Thad Jones. He attended Harvard University and, later, moved to New York City where he studied with Carmine Caruso, Vince Penzarella and Richie Beirach.

In 2019 he was a part of two exciting new releases.  Planet D’earth is a collaboration with UVa alumna Kait Dunton and a celebration of musical convergences.  The free improvisation trio Angela on the Arts released Within

D'earth has performed and recorded internationally and appeared on over one hundred recordings spanning the analog and digital eras on vinyl, CDs, film, and video. Working with Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Gunter Hampel’s Galaxie Dream Band, Miles Davis/Quincy Jones at Montreaux, Tito Puente, Bruce Hornsby, Emily Remler, Bennie Wallace, Eddie Gomez, The George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Bob Moses, Pat Metheny, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, John Scofield and John Abercrombie, among many others, has called upon his ability to feel at home, creatively, in many genres.

D'earth has recorded as a leader for Vanguard Records, ENJA Records, DoubleTime Jazz and his own Cosmology label.  His recordings reveal an eclectic, searching nature, rooted in the entirety of the jazz and blues tradition and a hard bop trumpet sensibility that owes as much to Louis Armstrong as to Miles Davis.

D’earth is an avid composer and arranger with hundreds of compositions to his credit including full-length works for orchestra and/or other large ensembles.  He has written music for the Kronos String Quartet, the Kandinsky Trio, Bruce Hornsby, the Dave Matthews Band, the San Diego, Atlanta, Richmond and Roanoke Symphony Orchestras, the Charlottesville Chamber Festival, the University of Virginia Jazz Ensemble, the Great American Music Ensemble and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Youth Orchestra.

Relocating from Manhattan to Charlottesville in the mid-eighties, D’earth is a co-founder of the Free Bridge Quintet, was the music director for Cosmology (which became the Thompson D'earth Band) with his wife, vocalist/songwriter Dawn Thompson, leads the Charlottesville Swing Orchestra, the one blood jazz/poetry project, Thursday Night at Miller’s, and his own quartet/quintet.

As an educator D’earth has become interested in early musical development and in playing freely improvised music with young and even brand-new musicians in his “Precognitive Conservatory Orchestra” jam sessions and workshops.  As a jazz musician and composer he is interested in the nexus of composition and improvisation and in working with musicians, from any genre, who are committed to pushing their own boundaries in both of these areas.

John D'earth's career in music is documented in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, (Oxford Press) by Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler.



UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176