Joe Sullivan was born in Toronto and raised from an early age in the Northern Ontario town of Timmins. Part of a musical family, he played the piano as a child and took up the trumpet in high school, going on to study classical trumpet at the University of Ottawa.
His interest in jazz led him to Boston where he first studied at the Berklee School of Music, and then at the New England Conservatory of Music with George Russell and Jimmy Giuffre, receiving a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies. Since then, he has lived in the Montreal area, where he is an active performer, composer, arranger and bandleader.
A prolific composer, Sullivan directs a jazz sextet and The Joe Sullivan Big Band, and has eight albums to his name as a leader, the most recent being Whiskey Jack Waltz with his small group, and Unfamiliar Surroundings with his big band.
He is an associate professor at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, where he teaches jazz composition, arranging and trumpet.