(photo © Ho Hon Leung)


Joseph Michael Pignato is a composer, improviser, and music education scholar with extensive graduate, undergraduate, secondary, and distance teaching experience. He holds the position of Professor in the Department of Music at the State University of New York, Oneonta, where he teaches music industry courses, beat production, and two ensembles that perform experimental music and improvised rock.


Pignato has received numerous awards for excellence in scholarship, creative activity, advising, and teaching. Notable recognitions include the 2015 Susan Sutton Smith Award for Academic Excellence, Recognition as an international “Thought Leader” in the field of music in the SUNY Oneonta President’s report to the SUNY Chancellor, and the 2012 State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. The Chancellor’s Award is the highest academic award bestowed on teaching faculty in the SUNY system. Additionally, Pignato has been recognized with the Student Association award for Faculty Advisor of the Year; was twice recognized as “Outstanding Faculty” by the SUNY Oneonta Inter-Greek Council; and has been awarded multiple grants for travel, professional development, research, and creative works.


As a musician, Pignato has given performances and clinics internationally. He leads Bright Dog Red, an improvising collective that explores the intersections of free improvisation, electronica, jazz, hip hop, psychedelia, and noise music. Bright Dog Red has been described as “Mahavishnu meets Digable Planets” by indie music veteran Paul Shulman, as “Electric Ahmad” by storied jazz publicist Don Lucoff of DL Media, and “ahead of the game” by Jordan Taylor Hill of Revolution Radio.

For nearly a decade, Pignato performed with atom3, an electroacoustic trio, featuring the late guitarist Orlando Legname. Pignato continues to enjoy ongoing collaborations with multi-instrumentalist Paul Geluso, the trio’s other surviving member.


Pignato is also in demand as a drummer, working under the moniker u.joe. DJs, producers, MCs, and remix artists, including internationally renowned DJ M A N I K, engineer Mr. Temmtation, MC Righteous, and electronic musicians Palemen and Omsign, have employed his tracks. Gareth Dylan Smith, a London-based writer aptly described Pignato’s drumming, “Swings like Bonham hugging Questlove.”

Pignato’s original music has been noted for its “intriguing” conceptual characteristics (Haaretz News Service) and “haunting” musical elements (Charger Bulletin). His compositions have been premiered, performed, or exhibited as part of installations in North America, Europe, the Mid East, and beyond.


As a scholar, Pignato has presented research on five continents. He has published on composition, improvisation, music teaching and learning, music technology, and drumming. His publications appear in peer reviewed journals, edited volumes, anthologies, and practitioner journals. Pignato serves as one of the principal investigators for the Music Learning Profiles Project, an international research initiative that documents music learning that occurs outside the bounds of traditional institutional learning.


In addition to his scholarly and creative activities, Pignato has been recognized as a “musician, educator, and music business visionary” in Tape Op Magazine. Drawing on more than 25 years of experience in music business and media—including management positions at N2K Incorporated, BMG Classics, RCA Victor, ECM Records, CMP Records, and Latin Percussion—Pignato consults organizations in the areas of music and music education.


Pignato holds degrees from Boston University (D.M.A.), where he was a Tanglewood Scholar, New York University (M.A.), where he studied composition with Dinu Ghezzo, and the University of Massachusetts (B.A.), where he studied composition with Yusef Lateef. In addition, Pignato has studied drum set with noted pedagogue Sal La Rocca and drum icon Max Roach. He endorses Taye Drums, T-Cymbals Handmade Turkish Cymbals, Boso Drumsticks, and Dynaton Drumheads.




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