Great Neck’s own Sam Dillon is not just sharing his musical talent with the world, he is now helping to pass along his gift to students in his hometown. Dillon is now included in the impressive list of instructors at the Gold Coast Arts Center, right here in Great Neck. Dillon is a New York based saxophonist, woodwind player, band leader, composer and teacher.
He has played with some of the world’s finest musicians including Al Grey, Joe Chambers and Randy Brecker. Some of Dillon’s most noteworthy performances include The Joe Chambers “Moving Pictures” Jazz Orchestra @Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, The Captain Black Big Band, The Artie Shaw Jazz Orchestra, The Cecilia Coleman Big Band, The Paris Wight Quintet and The Sam Dillon Quartet.
In 2013, he was chosen as a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition where he performed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
In addition to performing, Dillon teaches saxophone, clarinet, flute, harmony and jazz improvisation. He has also conducted several instrumental master classes and workshops for schools and summer programs around the tri-state area.
Most notably, Dillon has performed at Carnegie Hall, Jazz @ Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Smoke Jazz Club, The Iridium, Yoshi’s Jazz Club, Smalls Jazz Club, The 55 Bar, The Zinc Bar, The Kitano Hotel, Cornelia Street Cafe and live on WBGO 88.3 FM.
Dillon made his discovery of jazz with Al Grey and never looked back. He says that he has gained “great knowledge and experience” by learning, performing and/or recording with some of the worlds finest musicians.
As a student, Dillon participated in several outstanding music programs and schools around the country. In 2002, he received a scholarship to attend the University of Miami Jazz Program, where he studied with Gary Keller. He completed his bachelor’s degree at SUNY Purchase College where he studied with Jon Faddis, Ray Vega, Todd Coolman, Steve Wilson and Ralph Lalama.
He then continued his studies at SUNY Purchase College where he studied with Eric Alexander, receiving his Masters Degree in Jazz Dillon wrote his Master’s Thesis on solo construction and development.
Before and during high school he participated in several outstanding music programs including USDAN, The C.W. Post Jazz program, The Skidmore Jazz Camp, The Vermont Jazz Center Workshop and The Friends of the Arts Jazz Program. Sam was selected into the Nassau All County Jazz Band for four years, New York All State Jazz two years in a row, and was first alternate for the All National Jazz Ensemble. In his junior year, Sam was a featured soloist with his high school orchestra at Carnegie Hall. In addition, he participated in the Nassau-Suffolk Jazz program for four years successively.
Additional big bands, funk bands, pit bands and orchestras that Dillon has developed a relationship with include The Big Apple Circus, The Josh Schneider “Easy Bake” Orchestra, The David White Jazz Orchestra, The Joe Battaglia New York Big Band, The Swing Time Big Band, Lou Caputo’s Not So Big Band, New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band, Give it One (Maynard Ferguson Tribute Band), Soul Be It, Sound of Infinity and Nocturne.
Dillon has also played with the house band behind the “Brooklyn Reunion” featuring legendary groups such as the “Classics.”
Television features on Dillon’s resume too. He has appeared on television several times with Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks. He was on HBO two times in Martin Scorsese’s television series Boardwalk Empire, playing clarinet, and most recently for USA in Royal Pains playing saxophone.
Dillon has been teaching music for over eight years. His private studio welcomes students of all ages and levels on saxophone, clarinet and flute. His students cover all areas of study from classical repertoire to jazz improvising.
He has also conducted several instrumental master classes and workshops for schools and summer programs including The North Shore High School Jazz Band and Combo, The Great Neck North High School Band and Orchestra and The Oyster Bay High School Jazz Band. In addition, he has been a woodwind teacher for The All Island Music Center for the past three years.
Previously he taught for The Tarrytown Music Works Program, The Hackley School Music Conservatory, Hey Joe Guitar and elsewhere. Sam was also part of the 2011 Vandoren sponsored “generation artists” program.
And now he is at the Arts Center.
The Gold Coast Arts Center (formerly the Great Neck Arts Center) is at 113 Middle Neck Road in Great Neck. For further information, call 829-2570.