A native of West Hartford, Connecticut, Erica began her musical career early at the age of 4 when she took up the piano. She soon took and interest in the flute and switched to saxophone in middle school. As her love for music grew, Erica honed her skills while attending Hall High School and participating in the internationally renowned Concert Jazz Band. Between 1996 and 2000 the band was invited to perform and compete at a number of high school jazz festivals and competitions such as Essentially Ellington and the Berklee Jazz Band Competition where she was received several accolades as Best Soloist. She also achieved recognition in Down Beat Magazine for Best Arrangement and Best Composition several years in a row.
In 2000 Erica continued her education at the Manhattan School of Music, under the direction of Justin DiCioccio. While there she auditioned for the Juilliard Jazz Studies program and was accepted into the first class of 18 students with a full scholarship. During her senior year she was invited to participate in the Scholastic Distinction Program, and graduated in 2004 with the first Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz in the history of the Juilliard School.
Since 2003, Erica has been a member of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Arturo O’Farrill, touring jazz festivals and venues in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and China. She also plays tenor saxophone in the all-female big band DIVA, which ranked number 2 in the 2005 Down Beat Reader’s Poll for best big band. In May of 2005, Erica was invited to be the flautist in Chris Potter‘s Tentet and is expected to record with the group in 2006.
She has also taken on the role of bandleader for her trio and her quintet, Project E. In September the Erica vonKleist trio performed at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola during the Diet Coke Women in Jazz Festival, which also featured Marian McPartland, Bertha Hope and Ann Hampton Callaway. Erica will be releasing her first album with her quintet Project E in early November. This summer Erica is hoping to tour with Project E and perform at several festivals and clubs throughout the US.