Vince Mendoza

Vince Mendoza (born November 17, 1961)[1] is an American composer, music arranger and conductor, and six-time Grammy Award winner. He debuted as a solo artist in 1989, and is known for his work conducting the Metropole Orkest and WDR Big Band Köln, as well as arranging music for musicians such as Joni Mitchell, Michael Brecker and Björk.

Vince Mendoza
Vince Mendoza Close up blue.jpg
Background information
Born (1961-11-17) November 17, 1961 (age 60)
Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S.
GenresJazz, symphonic music, world music
Occupation(s)Composer, arranger, conductor
Years active1989–present
LabelsBlue Note, ACT, Transparent, Geffen, BMG – Modern Recordings

Early lifeEdit

Mendoza was born in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1961,[2][3] He began studying music on the piano and classical guitar at an early age, before changing his focus to playing the trumpet and composing in high school, due to his love of jazz and soul music.[2][1] Mendoza wrote music for his high school jazz ensemble, later continuing studies in music at Ohio State University.[2] Intending to become a film composer, Mendoza moved to Los Angeles in 1983, where he completed a master's degree in composition at USC Thornton School of Music.[2][4]


In Los Angeles, Mendoza began to make connections in the music industry, arranging music for television and recordings, and for artists such as Peter Erskine, Charlie Haden and Rickie Lee Jones.[1] He was signed to Blue Note Records, with whom he released Start Here (1990) and Instructions Inside (1991).[5] In 1992 he released Jazzpaña with American producer Arif Mardin in 1991, garnering his first Grammy Nomination for the song "Buleria".[6][7] In 1994, Mendoza released a big band album called Sketches, collaborating with the WDR Big Band.[5] In 1999, Mendoza composed the music and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra to on his album Epiphany.[3] In the late 1990s, Mendoza began his work with the Dutch Metropole Orkest as the principal guest conductor.[1]

His compositions can be heard on recordings by Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Sean Jones, Michael Brecker, John Abercrombie and Charlie Haden. Mendoza provided arrangements for Björk’s Vespertine (2001) and Lars Van Trier’s score to Dancer in the Dark (2000). His arrangements are also heard on recordings by Gregory Porter, Chaka Khan, Elvis Costello, Robbie Williams, Robert Glasper, Bobby McFerrin, Sting, as well as Herbie Hancock and Al Jarreau. He has produced six Grammy Award-winning albums, Travelogue, Both Sides Now with Joni Mitchell, Some Skunk Funk, Brown Street, El Viento and 54. From 2005 to 2013 he was chief conductor of the Dutch Metropole Orkest.[8]

Mendoza works as an adjunct professor of jazz composition at USC Thornton School of Music.[9]


As leaderEdit

Title Details Peak chart positions

Vince Mendoza
  • Released: 1989[6]
  • Label: H.I.T. Avenue
  • Formats: CD
Start Here
Instructions Inside
  • Released: 1991
  • Label: Blue Note, Manhattan
  • Formats: CD, cassette
(as The Mendoza/Mardin Project)
  • Released: 1992[6]
  • Label: ACT
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: 1994[6]
  • Label: ACT
  • Formats: CD
Caribbean Night
(with WDR Big Band Köln)
  • Released: 1997
  • Label: BHM
  • Formats: CD
(with the London Symphony Orchestra)
  • Released: 1999[6]
  • Label: Zebra Acoustic
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: September 26, 2008
  • Label: Zebra Acoustic
  • Formats: CD, digital download
El Viento: The Garcia Lorca Project
(with the Metropole Orkest)
  • Released: June 2009
  • Label: ACT
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Fast City: A Tribute to Joe Zawinul
(with the Metropole Orkest)
  • Released: 2010
  • Label: BHM
  • Formats: CD, digital download
The Phoenix
(with Danish Radio Big Band)
  • Released: 2010
  • Label: Red Dot
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Nights on Earth
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Horizontal
  • Formats: CD, digital download
(with WDR Big Band)
  • Released: 2017
  • Label: Sunnyside
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Freedom Over Everything
(with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra)[11]
  • Released: 2021
  • Label: BMG Modern Recordings
  • Formats: CD, digital download


Title Year Album
(with Terell Stafford, Temple University Studio Orchestra and Dick Oatts)
2019 Non-album singles
"Freedom Over Everything"
(with Black Thought)[11]

As arranger and conductorEdit

With the Metropole Orchestra

With WDR Big Band Cologne

With others

As instrumentalistEdit


Grammy AwardsEdit

Year Nominated Work Category Result Source
2001 "Both Sides, Now" (2000 re-recording) (Joni Mitchell) Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals Won [7]
2004 "Woodstock" (Joni Mitchell) Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals Won
2007 Some Skunk Funk Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album Won
2008 "In a Silent Way" Best Instrumental Arrangement Won
2011 "Carlos" Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella Won

Latin Grammy AwardsEdit

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2009 Regência: Vince Mendoza
(with Ivan Lins and the Metropole Orchestra)
Best MPB Album Won


  1. ^ a b c d "Biography: Vince Mendoza". AMG. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Lee, Nancy Ann (2019-04-25). "Vince Mendoza". Jazz Times. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
  3. ^ a b Vella, Joseph (2017-12-06). "Interview: Vince Mendoza (Jazz Composer Extraordinaire)". HuffPost. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
  4. ^ "Vince Mendoza". USC THORNTON SCHOOL OF MUSIC. 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
  5. ^ a b Olson, Paul (2007-09-10). "Vince Mendoza: Color, Counterpoint And Open Ears". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Olson, Paul (2007-09-10). "Vince Mendoza: Color, Counterpoint And Open Ears". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
  7. ^ a b "Vincent Mendoza Artist". Recording Academy. 23 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-05-01.
  8. ^ Metropole Orchestra: Conductors. Retrieved: 18 June 2011
  9. ^ "Vince Mendoza Adjunct Professor". USC THORNTON SCHOOL OF MUSIC. 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
  10. ^ "Chart History Vince Mendoza". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
  11. ^ a b "Vince Mendoza Releases Single "Freedom Over Everything" With Derrick Hodge". Bass Magazine. 2021-05-10. Retrieved 2021-05-15.

External linksEdit