TSJR's Featured Artist Archives

July 2011

Miles Davis — How “Visionary” is Spelled in Jazz

Miles Davis. There, enough said.  Does not the name alone  conjure up images of greatness, imagination come to life, and creativity that boggles the mind? O.k., so you want more. Fine, but  you must now settle in for the longest profile we have published to date. I doubt that many will want to argue why. This is certainly no knock on the many incredibly talented and gifted artists we have covered here, but a story of this magnitude with such underlying revelations and feel-good points for aspiring artists simply could not be watered down. So, bear with me and allow me to elaborate.

His skill as a trumpeter was unsurpassed.  As a composer, his approach to music was nothing less than visionary and produced some of the most original and innovative pieces in existence.   At the heart of his genius was the ability to hear the possibilities of new and exciting sounds combined with an insatiable drive to continually move his music forward.  His cutting edge approach put him at the forefront of every major movement in jazz for 40 years.  He was a major participant in bop and a leader in hard bop, cool jazz, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.   His larger-than-life and sometimes controversial persona caused him to be vilified by some and idolized by others.  His one-of-a-kind influence on music and modern culture is undeniable.
Miles Dewey Davis III was born May 26, 1926, to educated and successful parents.  He was the second of three children raised in an upper middle class neighborhood in East St. Louis, IL.  His mother, a pianist herself, hoped that Miles would learn to play the violin but, when he was 12 years old, his father gave him a trumpet.   The elder Davis was friends with Elwood Buchanan, the band teacher at the local high school, and soon arranged for young Miles to receive private instruction from him.
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June 2011

Dave Grusin – Jazz’s Definition of Achievement and Vision

Jazz great Dave Grusin boasts a career that spans over 50 years and encompasses virtually every aspect of the music industry.   He is a renowned composer, performer, arranger, director and recording executive.  The volume of work for which he is responsible is simply staggering, but factor in the quality and versatility of his music, and it adds up to nothing less than phenomenal.

Grusin was born to musical parents in 1934.  He grew up in Littleton, Colorado where he lived with his parents and younger brother Don; who became a successful musician in his own right.  Music was a focal point in the Grusin household, and the brothers were well versed in a wide range of classical music and what Dave Grusin referred to as the “literature of great orchestration.”   He took piano lessons for a few years as a child and then off and on as a teen.  When it came time for college, Grusin did not initially intend to pursue a degree in music but did eventually decide to enroll at the University of Colorado as a piano major.  It turned out to be the ideal beginning for the extraordinary career waiting just around the corner.
It was during his college years that he began to really discover the world of jazz.  He was listening to the great performers of the time, artists such as, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Shorty Rogers, and Dave Brubeck.  He also performed with local bands during this time and even had the opportunity to work with saxman Spike Robinson and singer Anita O’Day.  After graduating college, he found his way to New York City where he intended to pursue a graduate degree in music.  However, fate sent him in another direction when a friend from college advised him that singer Andy Williams was looking for an accompanist, and Grusin auditioned.  Williams knew a good thing when he heard it and hired the talented young pianist immediately.  What started out as a two- week commitment gradually turned into years and ultimately resulted in the relatively inexperienced Grusin becoming musical director for the Andy Williams Show.
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May 2011

Marc Antoine –Guitare Élégant of Jazz & More

Guitarist Marc Antoine brings finesse and such a fine flair to the world of contemporary jazz. His melodies are always so romantic and telling, and his is a story that begs to be told.By the time he was 14 years old, Marc Antoine was sure he wanted to be a professional musician.  He had been playing seriously since he received his first guitar at age 11.  He had only been playing the guitar a couple of months when it became apparent that he had serious talent.  After about a year, his father realized that his son could benefit from lessons; so, he sent him to the Paris conservatory for training in classical guitar.  During this time, young Antoine was privileged to be mentored by classical guitarists Andres Segovia and John Williams.

His musical education wasn’t confined to formal lessons during his years of training.  Antoine was also exploring many other types of music on his own. He was listening to a wide range of music, everything from rock to flamenco, afro-pop to jazz as well as classical. He was definitely building the broad foundation of sounds and rhythms that typifies his music today.

By the time he was 17, Antoine was winning awards and playing with local bands.  His hope of a music career was becoming a reality.  However, his career was almost destroyed when the budding musician suffered a severe injury to his left hand.  The damage was extensive, and a surgery of about four hours was required to repair it.  When it was over, the surgeons told an anxious Antoine that his days of playing the guitar were almost certainly over.  Fortunately, love for the music enabled him to defy the odds, and he was back to performing three years later.  Read full article

April 2011

Dave Koz - Smooth Jazz’s “Energizer Bunny” 

Dave Koz is one of the most likable and successful musicians on the smooth jazz scene today.  His career as a solo recording artist began over twenty years ago with the release of his self- titled album in 1990.  He has since released 13 more albums, and I am happy to say he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.   He sees the beginning of a new century as a time filled with change and new opportunities.   He is excited for the future and embraces the changes the future brings.   He wants his music to reflect the new world springing up around him.
Koz was born in 1963 and raised in the San Fernando Valley of California.   As a child, he took piano lessons, but he didn’t like the piano much and says he never played it very well. However, his mother insisted that he stick with it for a while.  Although the piano never became a performance instrument for him, he says he is grateful for her persistence because he now does most of his composing on the piano. 
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March 2011

Bob Baldwin — Stylish Keyboardist On a Mission

Mount Vernon, NY,  native Bob Baldwin is unquestionably an unsung hero when it comes to the Contemporary/Smooth Jazz genre.  With much for which to be thankful, this most talented keyboardist is always striving to do more, say more, and give more.

Baldwin’s father, Robert Baldwin, Sr., was also an accomplished jazz pianist and upright bassist in his own right. Dad’s brief Pianist career included working with Keter Betts (Ella Fitzgerald’s main bassist) and Art Davis (the last bassist for the legendary John Coltrane), both Westchester residents.   Little Bobby Baldwin used to go to his dad’s jam sessions around county and studied the masters of the Westchester region, such local stars like Lou Derry, Jimmy Hill, Fred Smith, Carmen Leggio and others.

Fortunately, this journeyman was blessed to be taught to play the piano by his father at age 4. Meanwhile, we should seriously consider his musical influences as a youngster with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Patrice Rushen, Chick Corea, Earth, Wind and Fire, Joe Sample, Ramsey Lewis, Miles Davis, and George Duke. His musical voicings are a by-product of these artists.  It’s obvious this cast of prominent players made a profound impact on Baldwin’s musical journey.  Even after studying accounting, business, and broadcasting in college, he never strayed far from his first love.  Read full article