Dr. Rex Cadwallader is a noted jazz pianist, composer, and educator. He received an Emmy Award in 1999 for his original score for “The Connecticut River: A Journey Through Time,” a Connecticut Public Television Special, an Emmy Award nomination in 1998 for his score for “Connecticut For All Seasons,” another CPTV presentation. He has received composition and performance awards from downbeat magazine, compositional study grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has published over seventy compositions for big band, jazz combo and vocal jazz ensemble.
He was invited to participate in the prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop in New York, through which one of his compositions for big band, “Invocation,” was premiered in July of 2001, though since then he has devoted more time to symphonic composition. He has studied jazz composition and arranging with Jim McNeely, Manny Albam, Michael Abene, Claire Fischer, and Ray Wright. His music has been recorded throughout the U.S. and Europe, and his scores for television have been heard nationwide. An album recorded with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain, “Big Band Christmas,” received an Album Of The Year award from the British Music Retailers Association in 1992. His “Symphony No. 5” was premiered by the American Chamber Orchestra in March of 2020. His earlier orchestral works include “Citizen,” a collaborative work commissioned by the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras premiered in 2018, “Symphony No. 4” performed by the New Haven Civic Orchestra in May of 2013, his “Concerto for Marimba and Chamber Orchestra” premiered by the American Chamber Orchestra in February of 2012, and “A Bridgeport Fantasy” commissioned by the Greater Bridgeport Youth Symphonic Orchestra and premiered on February 28, 2010. “Symphony No. 3” was premiered in October of 2008 by The American Chamber Orchestra, Christopher James Hisey, conductor, as was “Symphony No. 2 in C# Minor” in November of 2007. His “Concerto for Violoncello” was introduced by the Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra in February of 2006 with Rebecca Patterson, ‘cellist. The New Haven Civic Orchestra premiered Dr. Cadwallader’s “Connecticut Legends” in 2005 and the American Chamber Orchestra premiered his “Symphony – Wind River” in 2004.
Dr. Cadwallader has played with such jazz luminaries as Rufus Reid, Bob Mintzer, Eddie Daniels, Ed Shaunessey, Bill Watrous, Don Menza, Clark Terry, Ali Ryerson, Joe Beck, Giacomo Gates, and many others. Rex appears as performer or composer on over twenty-five recordings including his most recent CDs “A Balm In Gilead,” which features soprano Tiffany Jackson, “Simple Gifts,” and “Sweet Perfume In An Alabaster Jar” with bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Arti Dixson, “Quicker Than The Eye,” also with bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Arti Dixson, “Broadway – West Side Story,” with flutist Ali Ryerson, bassist Mike Asetta and drummer Arti Dixson, and “The Art Of Trio,” with bassist David Chevan. The CD, “Repartee,” also with David Chevan was released in January 2000. His new solo piano CD “Love Song For Nancy” featuring jazz standards will be released this fall on the Stanza USA label, and a CD of original contemporary jazz with drummer Rich MacDonald entitled “The Cadwallader / MacDonald Project – YOUR SMILE” was released in 1998 on Jaybird Records. Two other recordings, “Christmas In The Neighborhood” with bassist Mike Asetta, and “In A Mellow Tone,” a tribute to the music of Duke Ellington with bassist David Chevan and drummer Jesse Hameen II, were released in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
His compositions for big band, small jazz ensemble, and vocal jazz ensemble have been recorded worldwide, including recordings by the Tokyo Big Band, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain, the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, the Austin Big Band, and university and college big bands throughout the United States. He is currently completing work on a new cd of original compositions to be recorded this summer with The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra.
Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, Connecticut from 2000-2021, he continues to serve as Director of Bands. He has also served as Assistant Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Texas in Arlington, Associate Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Colorado, has taught at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, at Marlborough College in Marlborough England. He continues to teach jazz piano at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. He received his Doctor of Arts Degree in Composition and Music Theory from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Composition degrees from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
As a jazz educator, Dr. Cadwallader has been a guest artist, clinician, and adjudicator at festivals throughout the United States and England. His performing groups have received many national awards and have appeared at numerous state music association conventions and at the annual convention of the International Association of Jazz Educators.