Born in Bari in March 1975, he graduated from Bari Conservatory in 1994 with top marks. In 1993 he started a long relationship with the saxophone player Roberto Ottaviano, who included him in his latest recording project, which also saw the participation of Michel Godard (tuba), Tom Varner (French horn) and Marcello Magliocchi (percussions). In the same year, he took part in another recording project as guest artist, along with American saxophonist Greg Osby.
In 1995 he played lead trombone in the O.F.P. Orchestra, under the direction of Carla Bley, Steve Coleman and Bruno Tommaso. He took part in the "Italian Jazz Today" compilation, produced by the Italian magazine "Musica Jazz" and released with the January 1996 issue. In 1997, he spent some time in Germany where he played with several local and Dutch musicians.

At present, he plays with Enrico Rava, who wanted him for his Canadian tour, in the summer of 1997. Since 1980, he has participated in several tours and with the "Noisemakers", the group led by drummer Roberto Gatto. He is a member, since September 2000 of the "Orchestre National de Jazz", under the direction of Paolo Damiani. In 2001, he played with Enrico Rava's quintet at the Town Hall in New York. In the same year, he was awarded the "Django d'Or" as best talent.

His international collaborations include, among others: Steve Swallow, Joy Calderazzo, Jimmy Owens, Greg Osby, Bob Moses, Carla Bley, Gerard Pansanel, Klaus Suonsaari, Steve Coleman,Tom Varner, Michel Godard, Joel Alouche, Lester Bowie, Han Bennink, Marc Ducret, Roswell Rudd, Lonnie Plaxico, Ray Anderson, Pat Metheny, Oregon, John Abercrombie, Aldo Romano and Steven Bernstein.

He has also worked with several important italian musicians: Enrico Rava, Roberto Gatto, Antonello Salis, Gianluigi Trovesi, Roberto Ottaviano, Enrico Pieranunzi, Paolino Dalla Porta, Paolo Fresu, Danilo Rea, Paolo Damiani, Enzo Pietropaoli and others. In the "electronic area" he collaborated with 9lazy9 (Ninja Tunes) and performed with the worldwide famous Matmos. He has performed in the most important and international festivals. Under these: Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, Chicago, Rio de Janiero, Oslo, London, Berlin, Umbria Jazz and the Blue Note Jazz Club of Tokyo and New York.

Recently he leads two new projects: the new "Tubolibre" Quartet with Mauro Ottolini (tuba), Gabrio Baldacci (guitar) and Cristiano Calcagnile (drums) and the "Cosmic Band", a new tentet who recorded one limited cd for the Italian magazine L'Espresso.

2006: He wins the "Top Jazz" award as "best Italian jazzist of the year
2005: "("Musica Jazz" magazine) and the "Down Beat Critics Poll" award as
best rising star trombonist.
2007: Paul Acket Awards (Bird Award) as "Artist Deserving Wider Recognition"
and – again – the "Down Beat Critics Poll" award as best rising star

Gianluca Petrella is represented by Pannonica,