Pianist, Vocalist, Accordionist, Composer, Arranger, and Educator, 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.
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. His current project features these original compositions and arrangements, backed by the 16-piece Toronto Jazz Orchestra, led by Josh Grossman. Together, they lead a highly charged and entertaining set of music that swings, grooves, and scratches a washboard during a Zydeco arrangement of "Bow Legged Woman" & "Jambalaya", all while featuring Carmen as pianist, vocalist, accordionist, composer, and arranger.
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.