Craig Yaremko is a dynamic performer on all saxophones, flutes and clarinets. “An artist who…has a powerful musical personality. (Whose) originals, which touch on the jazz tradition while also looking forward, are rife with musical adventures.” (Newark Star-Ledger) Craig’s diverse musical tastes have led to performances with world-class jazz, classical, rock and pop artists, establishing himself as one of the most exciting and versatile artists on the New York-area music scene. Through this experience, he has developed an eclectic, yet distinctive approach as a composer, performer and educator, delivering inspired performances both onstage and in the classroom.
A native of Clifton, NJ, Craig received his M.A. in Music Education from Montclair State University and his B.F.A. in Jazz and Contemporary Music Performance from the New School University. During his years at the New School, Craig had the opportunity to study with many legends of jazz, including Jane Ira Bloom, Joanne Brackeen, Joe Chambers, Eddie Gomez, Barry Harris, Junior Mance, Cecil McBee, Ron McClure, Charles Tolliver, and Reggie Workman. He has also studied conducting with Dr. Thomas McCauley, Dr. Craig Kirchhoff and Dr. Mallory Thompson. During his formative years, his primary saxophone and woodwind teachers were Mark Friedman and Ken Hitchcock (who passed on the teachings of Joe Allard and Thomas Nyfenger).
Craig has performed along side jazz artists Gerri Allen, Helio Alves, Tim Armacost, Jerry Bergonzi, Paul Bollenback, Don Braden, Paulo Braga, Randy Brecker, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Jimmy Cobb, Bob Dorough, Kermit Driscoll, Paquito D'Rivera, Wycliffe Gordon, Joe Magnarelli, Hendrik Meurkens, Paul Meyers, Bob Mintzer, Rufus Reid, John Riley, Dave Samuels, Bobby Sanabria, Byron Stripling, Dave Stryker, Dave Valentin, and Ray Vega. Known for his impeccable section playing, he has worked with some of the New York area's finest big bands, including an almost nine-year run as the lead alto saxophonist with the Cecil’s Big Band (directed by Mike Lee) at the now-closed Cecil’s Jazz Club. Other big band performances include Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band, Diane Moser's Composer's Big Band, the Water Gap Jazz Orchestra, the BMI Composer's Workshop (with Jim McNeely, Mike Holober and Michael Abene), as well as the bands of Bill Mobley, Russ Speigel, Bill Warfield, and Joe Elefante (receiving national exposure in the Wall Street Journal and on ABC's Nightline). Craig has appeared on numerous albums, including three albums with the Nathan Eklund Group (Coin Flip (2010), The Crooked Line (2007) and The View From Afar (2006)), three with the Michael Treni Big Band (You Better Watch Out (2017), Pop Culture Blues (2013), Boys Night Out (2012) and Turnaround (2009), all featuring saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi) and Willy Dalton and the Real Deal Big Band (Real Deal Big Band (2012)).
A truly eclectic musician, Craig has also performed with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, New York City Symphony, and numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway pit orchestras. He has backed-up such artists as Clay Aiken, Frankie Avalon, Lou Christie, Linda Eder, Michael Feinstein, Aretha Franklin, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Patti LuPone, Johnny Mathis, Bobby Rydell, Paul Sorvino, Toni Tennille, Leslie Uggums and Frankie Valli.
Yaremko has led is own groups since 2001. His latest project, the Craig Yaremko Organ Trio, finds Craig continuing to push the limits of the tradition.
His critically-acclaimed latest recording, CYO3 (OA2 Records) features organist Matt King, drummer Jonathon Peretz and guest guitarist Vic Juris. Exploring originals and contemporary arrangements of classics by Monk, Strayhorn and Fats Waller, the album was hailed as “pure magic” by Jazziz Magazine. The New York City Jazz Record stated that “Sax players who can realize each of the distinctly gorgeous tones within the soprano, alto and tenor are tough to find. One horn, usually the soprano, suffers. If you add to this a weighty sound on flute and alto flute. Craig Yaremko may be the only player left standing.” This recording follows Craig’s 2007 critically acclaimed release, Sync, which was named one of the Top Ten CDs of year by Hot House magazine.
A firm believer in sustaining the art form and giving back to the next generation, Craig Yaremko is a dedicated educator. Craig is currently director of the instrumental music program at Holdrum Middle School, in River Vale, NJ, where he directs the Concert Band, 6th Grade Band, Jazz Band, and various chamber groups. He has been an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University, where he teaches Woodwind Techniques. He was conductor of the 2012 NJ Region I Saxophone Ensemble, and has also given clinics throughout the New York Metropolitan area on jazz improvisation and woodwind performance.
Craig Yaremko is a practicing yogi and yoga teacher, and teaches alignment-based yoga to aid students in realizing their inherent capacity. He completed his RYT-200 hour teacher training at Yoga Mechanics in Montclair, NJ, in 2018, where his primary teachers were Omni Kitts Ferrara, Donna Scro Samori, Matthew Korn, and Joe Gandarillas. Craig has continued studies and deepened his practice at workshops with Darren Rhodes, Douglas Brooks, and Dr. Robyn Capobianco. He created and teaches Music and Mindfulness, a course that combines meditation, yoga and mindful music listening and appreciation, at Holdrum Middle School.