Tito Carrillo joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty in the Spring of 2006. He is a trumpeter, educator, bandleader, composer, and arranger, and since 1996 he has been a fixture in the Chicago jazz and Latin music scenes. The list of artists he has performed, recorded, and toured with is as varied as his skill set: Chicago heavyweights Willie Pickens, Bobby Broom, Patricia Barber, and Kurt Elling; big bands such as the Woody Herman Orchestra, Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, and Smithsonian Masterworks Orchestra (directed by David Baker); jazz greats such as Toshiko Akiyoshi, Louis Hayes, Jon Faddis, and Vincent Herring; Salsa legends such as Andy Montaoez, Tony Vega, and Cheo Feliciano; Latin jazz giants Tito Puente and Paquito D'Rivera; and pop icons Quincy Jones and Phil Collins.
Carrillo has played some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including Chicago's Symphony Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and London's Royal Albert Hall. His work has been heard at international jazz festivals in Chicago, Telluride, Montreux (Switzerland), North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague (Netherlands), and Pori, Finland.
As an educator, he served on the faculties at both the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, as well as Northwestern University prior to his appointment at Illinois. He has also brought his talents as an educator and performer to Chicago's inner-city high schools through the Ravinia Festival's community outreach program, the Ravinia Jazz Mentors.
Of Carrillo, the Chicago Tribune states "he has acquired a reputation as a fluid improviser, doubly-blessed with a warm lyric style and technique to burn." He continues to lead his own quintet in Chicago and throughout the Midwest, as well as being an active guest soloist and clinician at various secondary and collegiate jazz programs.
An effective jazz solo and effective teaching share a common thread: the effective communication of ideas. Teaching is a very natural extension of my playing, and when I can help a committed and focused student make a new discovery about his or her own playing, the resulting energy that fuels musical development is mutually felt. Command of the trumpet is of primary importance, and I view it as a fundamental discipline under the umbrella of jazz playing, like transcribing or tune-learning. Your instrument is your voice, and for that reason I use a combination of traditional brass methods along with customized exercises adapted specifically for the modern improviser. Every student is blessed with unique creative gifts, and no two people perceive music in exactly the same way. I seek to nurture that individual creativity, but it must be informed by the lofty standards set by those jazz masters, trumpet or otherwise, who contributed to shaping and defining what we now call jazz. Style and Jazz Articulation, Chord Recognition and Ear Training, Transcription (and the Application of), Swing Feel and Rhythmic Conviction, Harmonic Internalization (Chords and Scales), Internalization of Jazz Vocabulary, and Tune Internalization are just a few of the disciplines that we tackle in my studio. Most musicians will tell you that their teaching style is rooted in personal experience, and I am no exception. But rather than simply imparting knowledge, I feel it is my duty to ensure that the information I give is being processed correctly. Therefore, simplicity is my rule, because my ultimate goal for the students is continuous development throughout their respective careers.