Hailed as, "One of New York's most exciting musicians..." A.J. Merlino’s intense and versatile performing style has made him a highly sought after percussionist and educator. As a touring musician, he has played in Scotland, Croatia, Greece, Thailand, Australia, and Argentina. He has also presented masterclasses at various seminars and colleges in the United States, Argentina, Australia, and Canada. While residing in Las Vegas, he performed on the Las Vegas strip with popular music artists such as Jay-Z, Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers, Eric Marienthal, and Cee Lo Green.
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.
Merlino can be heard on various recordings including Terraformer and Stranger Heads Prevail – Thank You Scientist, The Dreams that Stuff are Made of - Karmic Juggernaut, Tranquilizer! and Ladies and Gentlemen, Remember Jones – Remember Jones, , Woodpecker – We Used to Cut the Grass, Lost Vegas - UNLV Wind Orchestra, Welcome to Las Vegas - Ragtime Rebels Marimba Band, and Rebels in Paris - Vox Ama Deus Ensemble.
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 works for marimba by Casey Cangelosi and Pius Cheung. 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 earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree. A.J. Merlino was a 2017, 2018, and 2020 quarterfinalist for GRAMMY Foundation's Music Educator Award for his work as the founder, president, and music director of his 501(c)(3) non-profit, Reading Samba School. Merlino is currently the Music Department Co-Chair, Director of Music Industry Studies, and Assistant Professor of Music at Albright College.