A versatile arranger and composer, Vince Mendoza's music falls between post-bop and crossover, often being creative jazz with pop sensibilities. Mendoza began playing piano and guitar when he was six and grew up around music. He played trumpet in high school and studied composition at Ohio State University in addition to learning drums and bass. His knowledge of many instruments came in handy when Mendoza moved to Los Angeles and began working in the studios, writing for television and movies. After meeting Peter Erskine, Mendoza met many top jazz musicians whom he has since worked with, including John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Bob Mintzer, and Marc Johnson. Mendoza is an expert at blending together acoustic and electric instruments and he has recorded as a leader for World Pacific, Manhattan, and Act. Released in 1999, Epiphany, his debut for the Zebra label, featured the London Symphony Orchestra and seven jazz soloists: Marc Johnson, Peter Erskine, Michael Brecker, Kenny Wheeler, Joe Lovano, John Taylor, and John Abercrombie.
Mendoza has remained active into the 21st century with large-ensemble composing and arranging in both jazz and pop settings. His seventh CD as a leader, 2008's Blauklang (on the Act label), features an 11-piece jazz ensemble and string quartet, and is notable for the performance of guitarist Nguyên Lê. Another highlight of Mendoza's 21st century discography is 2010's Fast City: A Tribute to Joe Zawinul by the Dutch Metropole Orkest (Mendoza began his association with the jazz/pop orchestra in 1995, and has been the ensemble's music director since 2005). Also in 2010, the Orkest released the album 54 featuring John Scofield on guitar. The album earned Mendoza a Grammy Award the following year for Best Instrumental Arrangement for the album's leadoff track, entitled "Carlos." In 2011, Mendoza released the solo album Nights on Earth. ~ Scott Yanow & Dave Lynch