Bruce facilitates creativity and personal transformation in players and this has endeared him to students that he has taught and artists that have worked with him.
Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick he left his university studies and moved to Montreal to study trumpet. After a period of study at Berklee College of Music in Boston he moved Halifax, Nova Scotia, finished his B.Sc. in experimental psychology at Dalhousie University and then moved to Toronto. He was soon performing at Toronto’s main jazz venues and in studios, including the first seven albums released by Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass.
He started out with trumpet as his first performance instrument and is today also one of the world’s foremost performers on the Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI), a wind synthesizer invented by Nyle Steiner. He wrote and recorded the first orchestral concerto for this instrument and with the EVI has performed the Ondes Martenot solo part in Olivier Messiaen’s Turangulila Symphony with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra.
His love of variety led to extended playing, recording and touring with Doug Riley’s Dr. Music, Lighthouse and, the fusion band Blood, Sweat and Tears (BS&T) for which he contributed compositions and arrangements for their last two albums. Artists with whom he has appeared in concert include Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Dionne Warwick, Anne Murray, Marvin Gaye, Chucho Valdez, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
After a world tour with BS&T in 1980 Bruce moved to South Africa and immersed himself in the African music scene. He wrote and produced music for orchestral concerts, film, television and international dance competitions. Under the auspices of the South African Department of Arts and Culture he composed and produced an opera based on African Xhosa folklore, The Clay Flute, and produced a number of concerts for European artists and the SA internationally renowned opera singer Sibongile Khumalo. His latest album production in South Africa was Our World, a modern orchestral/jazz outing for the renowned Soweto String Quartet. In 1995 he was contracted to return to South Africa to lead an international big band at the National Arts Festival there.
His own projects in South Africa include:
- TIMELESS, an award winning duo which combined the EVI, with the ancient instrument specialist Pops Mohamed which toured Scandanavia and central European countries
- THE BODY ELECTRIC (a group focused on the healing power of music, and
- A 10 piece band, BRUCE CASSIDY’S HOTFOOT ORCHESTRA which has also taken root here in Toronto with the finest local musicians.
Since Bruce’s return to Toronto in 2003, he has produced, with his Los Angeles partner Ken Wiley, the first jazz play-along book for French horn.He has also arranged Joe Zawinul’s classic “Birdland” for 16 french horns, and has written arrangements for Rick Morrison’s band The Carnival of Souls and the Andrew Burashko’s Art Of Time Ensemble.
From 2004 to 2009 Bruce was musical director for the great Blood Sweat and Tears vocalist David Clayton-Thomas and re-wrote the BS&T book for a larger ensemble to bring fresh sounds to that music.
He performs regularly with Bruce Cassidy’s Mbaqanga, A quartet playing South African Township style music, and One World Trio, a collaborative world music group featuring Anwar Khurshid, sitar, Waleed Abdulhamid bass and percussion and Bruce Cassidy EVI.
Bruce Cassidy’s Hotfoot Orchestra, a wide format six-horn band with which he recorded his latest release My African Heart.
You can hear Bruce performing in free-form trios with guitarist Reg Schwager and bassist Shelly Berger, as well as with groups led by John MacMurchy, Diane Roblin and Glen Hall. From time to time he performs with Sudanese expatriate multi-instrumentalist Waleed Abdulhamid.
In the spring of 2006 Bruce performed lead trumpet and EVI in the revival of the musical Hair in Toronto.
He presently is a Ph.D. candidate in music composition at York University in Toronto.