Possessing a wide-ranging skill set and renowned for his stylistic fluency,
Carmen Spada exudes his musical abilities as multiple personalities,
establishing a strong foundation upon which rests his career of crafting and performing music.
Carmen Spada graduated Summa Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music, in Boston, MA, obtaining a dual major in Piano Performance and Jazz Composition. While at Berklee, he earned the Berklee Achievement Scholarship, was nominated for the Boston Jazz Society Scholarship, represented Berklee internationally as a Student Ambassador and was the recipient of the 2007 Herb Pomeroy Award for excellence in Jazz Composition. He also enjoyed private study and direction from world-class jazz musicians such as Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, Hal Crook, Joanne Brackeen, Ed Tomassi, Ray Santisi and Frank Carlberg, and harmony and composition with Greg Hopkins, Phil Wilson and Steve Rochinski.
Upon graduation, Carmen established firm roots in the New England area music scene in both jazz and world music, and to this day continues to balance networking and performance opportunities between Boston and his hometown of Toronto, ON. He has performed at some of Ontario's finest performance venues such as the National Arts Centre, Aeolian Hall, Rose Theatre, Living Arts Centre, Isabel Bader Theatre, Westben Theatre, as well as the Berklee Performance Centre, The Redroom at Café 939, Prudential Centre Summer Concert Series, Kendall Square Summer Concert Series, Block Island Summer Concert Series, The Harvard Club, and a number of other corporate and private venues in New England. He currently holds a monthly residency performing at Manhattans Music Club in Guelph, ON.
Though firmly rooted in jazz and world music, Carmen has enjoyed pursuing and establishing his solo career in a unique jazz crossover to pop niche, due to his success as a songwriter. He won the 2010 Rose Theatre Singer/Songwriter competition in Brampton, ON for best original song and lyrics with "Why You Make Me Fall In Love With You", and was also awarded a creation grant from the Ontario Arts Council for his 2013 EP release, Buona Sera, featuring original songs and arrangements of Italian folk music for trio and sextet. His compositional style is currently focused on "contemporary standards": songs featuring the commercial appeal of jazz standards through form and lyrics, but with a deeper and contemporary approach to harmony and melody. The three horn lineup that Carmen employs in his sextet (trumpet, trombone, saxophone) reflects his love and history of composing and arranging for big band ensembles.
Amongst his generation, Carmen boasts the exceptionally rare combination of the knowledge of classical Italian folk styles and dialects spanning Italy, accompanied by a mature approach to playing accordion, and thus is recognized and sought out in the Italian cultural circles of Toronto and Boston, having performed at the St. Anthony Feast in Boston, Wakefield Italian Festa in Wakefield, MA, St. Peter's Fiesta in Gloucester, MA, as well as the St. Anthony Feast in Hamilton, ON and Festa Della Madonna Delle Grazie in Toronto. He was the Director of Entertainment for the 2012 Fogolar Furlan Convention of Canada, where he performed as well as presented a workshop on the history of the indigenous music of the region of Friuli, the Villotte. Carmen also enjoyed working as a demo artist for Roland Canada, performing demonstrations and workshops on the revolutionary FR-7X, the world's first digital accordion, and was featured online as Roland's Musician of the Month in October, 2013.
A highly respected educator, Carmen conducts various clinics and masterclasses at secondary schools in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as boasts successful in-person and live, online private teaching studios, with an emphasis on contemporary improvisation, harmony, composition, ear training and songwriting, as well as post-secondary music curriculum and audition preparation for prospective undergraduate students. He was proudly appointed Alumni Ambassador for Berklee College of Music in 2014, and assists the college with recruitment and outreach opportunities within various communities. Annually, Carmen is the featured adjudicator in the pop and jazz sections at the Davenport Festival of Music in Toronto, and currently resides as a Sessional Lecturer teaching the jazz ensemble at the University of Guelph.
In 2016, Carmen co-founded B-Jazzed, a non-for-profit organization curating performances, education series, and philanthropy of jazz music and its musicians, in the city of Brampton. Serving as its Artistic Director, Carmen has managed weekly performances in Brampton such as Joe's Jazz Jam, Jazz @ J. Red & Co., and Dinner Jazz at the Brampton Golf Club. In participation with the Brampton Library, Carmen programmed the BL Studio Series, a monthly education series teaching recording studio techniques free of charge at the Chinguacousy Branch recording studio, as well as a weekly improvisation and
composition clinic at the Four Corners Branch. In co-production with the Rose Theatre, he curates Sessions @ Studio 2, a monthly concert series featuring some of Canada's best jazz musicians. Most importantly, however, Carmen created and programs the annual World of Jazz Festival in Downtown Brampton, a two-day festival boasting two stages and over 90 musicians highlighting the diversity and multicultural interpretations of jazz music. In May, 2018, the City of Brampton recognized Carmen's work with B-Jazzed
with an Arts Acclaim Citizens Award.
Carmen currently performs and tours with Juno award winning guitarist Robert Michaels and was previously pianist and arranger for Luna Bianca, a world music ensemble consisting of Spada, Rosanna Riverso, Kevin Laliberte, Drew Birston and Chendy Leon, as well as accordionist for Henri Smith's Sounds of New Orleans ensemble, based in Boston. He has also performed and collaborated with Terry Clarke, Dave Young, Pat Collins, Marc Rogers, Mark McLean, Kelly Jefferson, Ted Warren, Nick “Brownman” Ali, Ernest Dawkins (Art Ensemble of Chicago), Amadee Castenell (Chocolate Milk), Chris Bilton (Marc Jordan), Kevin Knelman, Lenny Solomon, Michael Ciufo, and Grenville Pinto.