Otis Mourning was born in Sacramento, California in 1969. He began his musical career at the age of nine when he bought his first instrument, a Selmer Bb Clarinet. Within a few months he was asked along with seven other young fledging musicians to form a band called The Jazzin’ Juniors. Instantly popular initially for their adorability (not necessarily for their talent) they almost immediately began to get a steady stream of paid bookings at small jazz clubs and festivals. For the next four years, Otis began to develop his musical talent and learn about the art form called jazz.
He continued to play with various school programs and honor bands throughout his high school years. After graduating high school, Otis got a job clerking at Tower Records but still exercised his passion for music by playing and performing with whomever he could on his off time. After a couple of years, realizing that this is what he wanted to do with his life, he quit his day job and devoted himself full time to his craft. (In an interesting side note: around this time, the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey Circus offered him the lead alto saxophone chair in the band that tours with the circus. This would have been a nice steady income for a young unattached relatively unknown musician. However, with youthful optimism, Otis respectfully declined the offer envisioning a more glamorous future in music. Two weeks after he would have joined, the circus train derailed, resulting in fifteen people being injured and two fatalities.)
Around 1991, Otis co-founded and co-led the “internationally moderately famous” Wooden Nickel Jass Band, which during its ten year run achieved substantial popularity and success in the jazz festival scene. When not working with the Wooden Nickel, he’d perform five nights a week with the “Sammie award Hall of Famer’s”, The Beer Dawgs, playing saxophone, accordion, rubboard, percussion and singing. Juggling many other gigs all the while, he eventually accepted an offer to tour internationally with The 10th Avenue Band. For the next few years, he travelled around the world playing clubs and festivals in dozens of countries. He’s met and played with a lot of internationally respected musicians at renowned places like the Jazz Club Storyville (Helsinki), Stampen Jazz Club (Stockholm), Club 100 (London), the Guinness Jazz Festival (Cork, Ireland) and The North Sea Jazz Festival (Netherlands).
Over the years he’s worked with many jazz legends like Diane Schuur, Myron Floren and Kay Starr and has played on over sixty recordings. He was also the woodwind instructor at the Mammoth Lakes Jazz Camp for multiple years. Currently, he is a regular member and performs with the Titan Hot 7, the Beer Dawgs, Valerie V. Weinberg, the Deanoholics, Sister Swing, Peter Petty, Another Brick in the Wall, and his own group the Colorblind Greens Band.
Otis is known for his musical versatility and his ability to compliment any given genre. He is held in high regard for his jazz clarinet and mellow sounding saxophone skills but can also surprise the unbeknownst listener with some screaming stratospheric R&B sax when called upon. A man of diverse talent and taste, Otis Mourning brings his heart and soul to every single performance giving the audience a performance they won't soon forget.