Jesse Douglas Collins was born in Dover, NH. He spent his first four years growing up on Rock Rimmon Mountain. Jesse lived in a cabin and in a firetower, with no electricity or running water, where his father, who was a poet, worked for the NH FORESTRY Service while working on a book of poetry. as a baby, Jesse drank rainwater and ate fresh blueberries and really loved life on Rock Rimmon. His first word was “record.”
After moving to New York state, Jesse took up drums, piano, and later the saxophone, which he studied with Tom Sococio, who gave his students Charlie Parker solos to use as practice etudes.
When Jesse was 14 years old, he made his first professional gigs. Later that year, Jesse was named outstanding soloist at a Syracuse High School Band showcase and received a scholarship to attend the Eastern US Music Camp. This six week conservatory-style program was a 9 a.m.-to-9 p.m. intensive music study where Jesse learned both classical and jazz theory as well as writing and arranging for orchestras and big bands.
In 1987 Jesse attended Ithaca College. There he studied classical saxophone with the great classical saxophone professor Dr. Steven Mauk.
In 1990, Jesse had the opportunity to attend the New School for Social Research's new Jazz Studies Program. This was a great opportunity for Jesse in that his classmates were musicians like Brad Meldau, Peter Bernstein, Roy Hargrove, Larry Goldings, Chris Potter, Johannes Wiedenmuller, Jesse Davis, Omer Avital, Avaishai Cohen, and Mike Wilner, from whom Jesse could learn in addition to a faculty that included Jaki Bayard, Reggie Workman, Jimmy Cobb, Chico Hamilton and Junior Mance.
From 1990 to 2005, Jesse lived in NYC where he led his own groups and worked as a sideman in many prominent New York City groups. He worked with such jazz luminaries as Jimmy Cobb, Sacha Perry, Omer Avital, Denis Charles, Chad Taylor ,Carlos McKinney, Avishai Cohen, Boris Kozlow, and Johnny Ellis among others.
While living in NYC, Jesse studied privately with Sam Rivers, Lee Konitz, Arnie Lawrence and Jaki Bayard. He also had the great fortune to get a lesson or two from many other of the great musicians in the history of jazz including Sonny Rollins, Steve Coleman, Dizzy Gillespie, Rashied Ali, George Coleman, Larry Coryell, Milt Hinton , Bobby Watson, Gerry Niewood, Cecil Mcbee, and Vic Juris .
Jesse frequently attended jam sessions at the ST Bar and was a regular in the emerging scene at the jazz club Small’s.
In 2003, with the help of entrepreneur David Latimer, Jesse’s first record "Introducing Jesse Collins" , which was a compilation of live material from 1996 to 2002, recorded in New York City clubs, including Smalls and Fat Cat, was released, and was named a Jazz Times magazine "Critics Pick Top 10" for 2003.
In 2005 Jesse moved to Syracuse NY to create a “base camp” that was outside NYC to travel to work from, as well as to write more music, study and spend some time working on all the things he had learned in NYC from 1990-2005.
From 2005 to 2010, he performed with the Jesse Collins Group, and with many great local Syracuse groups including the Syracuse Symphony, the Central NY Jazz Orchestra, the Stan Colella Orchestra, and the DeSantis Orchestra.
In 2010 and through 2011, Jesse continued to form the new Jesse Collins Quartet concept and sound, and performed at the Monthly Concert Series at Rainbow Shores hotel, as well at clubs and at festivals in New York State.
In 2012 Jesse formed Real Bean Records , which was a musician owned independent Record label dedicated to the evolution of Jazz and to the sustenance of the musicians who create it.
In 2013 Jesse was nominated for, and in 2014 Jesse won Jazz Record of the Year in the Syracuse Area (SAMMY Award)
In 2015 Jesse moved to Ithaca NY where he works and travels from till today with the Jesse Douglas Collins Quartet, the JDC3 and the Jesse Collins Sextet, as well as with vocalist Diana Leigh and her Quintet and Trio.
In 2017, with Diana Leigh, Jesse formed Tezcat records as well as Mactree Productions.