Joe La Barbera has performed all over the world with some of the finest names in jazz since his arrival on the scene. From his first professional appearance at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas with Frankie Randall and the Buddy Rich band in 1968, to his work with jazz great Bill Evans and up to the present, he has always been in demand by world-class artists and has always been regarded by his peers as a tasteful, musical drummer and a supportive accompanist. Bill Evans summed it up best when he said: “Joe is very dedicated to playing quality music and he’s willing to make the concessions of dues toward that end. He’s a top soloist and he does the right thing at the right time”.
Born in Mt. Morris, New York, on February 22, 1948, his first musical experiences began at home as part of the family band with his parents and two older brothers, saxophonist Pat and trumpeter and arranger/composer John La Barbera. He received a solid foundation in drumming as well as lessons on clarinet and saxophone from his father starting at 5 years of age. After high school, his education continued at the Berklee College of Music in Boston where his teachers included John LaPorta, Charlie Mariano, Herb Pomeroy, and the great Alan Dawson.
La Barbera has been on the faculty at California Institute for the Arts since 1993 and is busy as a clinician and guest artist at many major universities. His residencies have included Centrum Jazz Camp in Port Townsend Washington, Roma Jazz Cool, Capbreton, France, McGill University in Montreal and Cornish College in Seattle.
La Barbara sites Jo Jones, Buddy Rich, Kenny Clarke, Shelly Manne, Joe Morello, and Roy Haynes as some of his drumming influences.