About Joe McCarthy

Joe McCarthy has led a diverse career as drummer/percussionist, bandleader, producer and educator in a myriad of settings from symphony orchestra to bebop, big band, afro cuban, theater and beyond.

Joe is the founder, leader, producer and drummer of The New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band, winner of the 2008 Latin Grammy for Latin Jazz Album of the Year, and nominated in the same category for the 51st Grammy Awards for the Heads-Up release “Afro Bop Alliance”, featuring Dave Samuels. Afro Bop has just released its seventh recording, “UPWARDS”, on the Zoho Record label and is now based in New York City. Joe co-led the Vince Norman/Joe McCarthy Big Band, with two releases on the Origin record label. Joe has recorded and or performed with Paquito D’ Rivera, Dave Samuels, Conrad Herwig, Slide Hampton, Eddie Daniels, Wayne Bergeron, Poncho Sanchez, Arturo O’ Farrill, Linda Oh, Oscar Stagnaro, Roland Vazquez, Samuel Torres and countless others. Joe is an in-demand session player and has done extensive show work, including national tours and Broadway.

Active in education, Joe has held adjunct appointments at the collegiate level since 1992 upon graduating from the University of North Texas with a Masters in Percussion Performance. Previous adjunct positions include Texas Wesleyan University, Delaware State University, Georgetown University, George Mason University and Washington College. As a clinician, Joe has been a featured performer and clinician at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), Jazz Educators Network International Convention (JEN), numerous PAS Days of Percussion, MusicFest Canada, The National Jazz Workshop, George Mason University Summer Jazz and Percussion Seminars, The Jazz n Youth Exchange of Germany, and many others. Joe has been featured at many of the nation’s top collegiate music institutions and festivals, in addition to numerous high school jazz festivals as a guest soloist, clinician and adjudicator. In 2019, Joe was the Director of Music at The Southport School, where he developed an innovative music curriculum tailored to meet the academic challenges of ADHD and dyslexia.

As an author, Joe is published by Alfred music with “Joe McCarthy’s Afro Cuban Big Band Play-Along Series”, featuring a book/CD play-along and Vol’s I & II DVD’s. This series has received rave reviews worldwide and is part of the curriculum at The University of North Texas, University of Miami, Berklee School of Music, Humber College and among others. Joe’s educational series are featured on the educational platforms of Vic Firth, Zildjian and Alfred Music.    

Joe has completed a twenty-year tour as Chief Petty Officer with The United States Naval Academy Band, where he served as principal percussionist with the wind ensemble and Chief in Charge/drummer of the Next Wave Jazz Ensemble- one of the Navy’s two premier big bands. Under Joe’s direction, the Next Wave commissioned and recorded new works by Jim McNeely, Vince Norman, Dave Samuels, Shawn Purcell and Dan Cavanagh. 

Joe proudly endorses Zildjian, Yamaha, Remo, Latin Percussion and Vic Firth, featuring Joe’s signature drumstick in the Modern Jazz Collection Series MJC2.