A.J. Merlino’s intense and versatile performing style has made him a highly sought after percussionist for the
past decade. His playing has taken him around the world including Scotland, Croatia, Greece, Thailand,
Australia, and Argentina. A resident of Las Vegas, he has been seen performing on the Las Vegas strip with
such artists as Jay-Z, Redfoo of LMFAO, Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers, Eric Marienthal, and Cee Lo Green
for the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. He has also collaborated with famed percussionists Michito Sanchez, Pepe
Jimenez, Christian Tamburr, Bernie Dresel, and Kurt Rasmussen.
Merlino has worked as music director, composer and performer for many projects held at The Venetian,
Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas as well as the production show Resurrecting Sin
City, which premiered in Las Vegas and traveled to Adelaide, Australia. As a clinician, he has presented to
numerous colleges, high schools, festivals and has worked for the International House of Blues with Kurt
One of the few cimbalom soloists in the country, Merlino has performed as a soloist on this instrument with
various college and professional ensembles, such as Moravian Wind Symphony, Reading Symphony Orchestra,
and Vox Ama Deus Ensemble. He can be heard on several recordings including Lost Vegas (principle
percussionist, UNLV Wind Orchestra), Rebels in Paris (soloist/percussionist, Vox Ama Deus Ensemble), and
Just Play (percussionist, The Colt Kayser Band).
A strong supporter of new music, Merlino uses his diverse skills on
dozens of percussion instruments to commission new works from up
and coming composers, such as a work for six-mallet marimba and
choir by Los Angeles composer Justin Raines and a new work for
marimba by Casey Cangelosi. His work with new music also extends
to numerous premieres utilizing various instrumentations by
David T. Little, Virko Bailey, Jim Barnes, Scott Steele, Eric Whitacre,
and Michael Daugherty.
Merlino holds percussion performance degrees from Kutztown
University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he is
pursuing his DMA. His instructors include Frank Kumor, Willis Rapp,
Kurt Rasmussen, Timothy Jones, and Dean Gronemeier.
A.J. Merlino is currently on faculty at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pennsylvania