John Yao

John Yao is a trombonist, composer, arranger and educator.

For almost twenty years, John Yao has been honing his talents as a trombonist, composer and arranger, and cementing his place on the New York City jazz scene. Yao’s lyrical soloing and expressive, round tone, combined with his relentless drive to push the boundaries of harmony and rhythm, have established him as a unique and forward-thinking jazz talent. The New York City Jazz Record proclaimed his latest recording Off-Kilter (See Tao Recordings, 2022) “a program using firmly flexible architecture to encourage audacious exploration” and that “John Yao’s Triceratops may be off-kilter, but is also remarkably on point.” In 2023, Yao earned a place in the Rising Star Trombone and Rising Star Big Band categories in the Downbeat Critics Poll. Masterfully leading and composing the music for both his large and small ensemble, Yao has released five albums as a leader.

As a trombonist, Yao has worked extensively as a sideman for Grammy-award winning New York City ensembles, such as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, New York Afro-Bop Alliance Big Band and Manuel Valera’s Cuban Express Big Band to name a few. Lucid Culture proclaims, “John Yao is one of New York’s elite trombonists and is also a first-class, ambitious, and witty composer and leader . . . a tuneful, epically inclined, cinematic trombonist.”

As a composer, Yao has been commissioned by Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, New York Afro-Bop Alliance Big Band, JMI Jazz World Orchestra, Arsonore Spirit Orchestra and numerous other ensembles. Formed in 2014, John Yao and His-17-piece Instrument has been a mainstay on the New York City jazz scene. The band has two albums forthcoming. In addition, Yao writes for both educational and professional ensembles with over two dozen works published and available on, and

An in-demand educator, Yao serves as Assistant Professor of Trombone at Berklee College of Music and Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and as Adjunct Professor of Music at Molloy University. He is an active guest artist and soloist at colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad.


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