Darrell Grant

Born in 1962 in Philadelphia, Darrell Grant moved to Denver as a young child. Starting piano lessons before his teens, Grant was a prodigy and at the age of 15 joined the Boulder, CO-based Pearl Street Jazz Band, a young but internationally renowned traditional New Orleans-style combo. Pearl Street Jazz Band toured worldwide and Grant was with the group for two years.

At 17, Grant won a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He focused on performance studies over theory, which he covered in his graduate studies in jazz theory and composition at the University of Miami.

Relocating to New York in the mid-’80s, Grant took on a series of low-profile sideman gigs. After a long stint playing with Betty Carter, Grant worked with luminaries like Chico Freeman and Greg Osby before finally stepping out as a bandleader for the first time.

His first release, 1994’s Black Art was well-reviewed and sold respectably, and the following year’s The New Bop was an even bigger critical success.

The title sums up his simultaneously backward-looking and forward-thinking aesthetic. Grant is steeped in the traditions of bop and post-bop jazz, and a cerebral, Bill Evans-like edge to his soloing that suggests a working knowledge of 20th century classical composers as well. All of these influences combine into a style that’s solidly traditional and is uniquely individual.

1997’s Twilight Stories was released on Joel Dorn’s 32 Jazz label; Grant’s appearance on that label, devoted primarily to classic reissues, cemented the esteem in which bop devotees hold him.

Grant’s Smokin’ Java, included his first published piece of prose, a thinly veiled autobiography about the cross-country move of a jazz pianist from New York to the Pacific Northwest. The lighthearted, twisty compositions reflect the bright, tongue-in-cheek tone of the short story, for which the album functions as a suitably caffeinated soundtrack.

The ambitious double-disc suite called Truth and Reconciliation appeared from Origin Records in 2007.

Darrell Grant is current on faculty at Portland State University.