Primary Instrument: Guitar
Mark Kleinhaut has been playing jazz guitar for over thirty years, during which time he has achieved one of the most prized and elusive goals in jazz--a highly personal sound and recognizable voice on his instrument. His clean guitar tones may first recall one to the great tradition of mainstream jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino, but listeners soon detect something else in Kleinhaut's highly evolved vocabulary. His playing avoids the cliches and trappings of the too-familiar jazz jargon in favor of melodic phrases that twist and leap passionately with the immediacy of the moment, yet follow his relentless pursuit of logic, balance and beauty. Mark Kleinhaut is also a prolific jazz composer and has five CDs of his original jazz compositions, including Chasing Tales with trumpeter Tiger Okoshi and A Balance of Light, with Bobby Watson on alto sax. Kleinhaut's newest release, Holding the Center (May 16,2006), represents further artistic evolution of his style with use of sampled sounds, electronic guitar effects and rhythms borrowed from latin, funk, rock and reggae music.
After completing his formal music studies at Rutgers University (B.A.1979) under the direction of the late Ted Dunbar, Kleinhaut eschewed the typical path to establishing himself as a jazz musician. He did not move to NYC as a young player to get started, instead pursuing a career in a non-music related field-banking (like his mentor Ted Dunbar, who was a pharmacist). However, Kleinhaut continued to pursue his musical artistry, maintaining rigorous practice and gigging schedules, working steadily to develop his own voice and musical ideas, all the while building a network of friends and collaborators in the jazz world. Mark makes frequent trips to New York City to play with friends at clubs such as Detour Jazz Club, 55 Bar and Trumpets (NJ), or as a member of the jazzcorner.com community in jam sessions at the Iridium and Birdland. Kleinhaut has taken his trio on tour in Germany and the Netherlands, and has toured as a duo in Cuba with clarinetist/whistler Brad Terry. In Maine, the Mark Kleinhaut Trio plays frequent host to visiting headliners such as Jerry Bergonzi, Alex Foster, Greg Abate and Scott Reeves.
During his 3-year term as president of the Maine Jazz Alliance (a non-profit jazz support and advocacy group), Mark was instrumental in bringing a long list of jazz luminaries to Southern Maine and worked tirelessly for jazz education. Under his leadership, MJA brought Jazz music to thousands of Maine School children through the Jazz Goes to School program. Mark has also made Maine a destination for some of his own work bringing nationally recognized jazz artists such as Bobby Watson and Tiger Okoshi to Maine to perform and record. Kleinhaut teaches privately, was adjunct faculty at University of Southern Maine, and has conducted clinics and workshops at Universities and High Schools, including Bowdoin College and the University of Maine. Mark uses his business acumen for the betterment of jazz in his community as a founding director of Access Jazz, Inc. a non-profit organized to promote public awareness and understanding of jazz. Kleinhaut has served as a member of the board of the Maine Jazz Alliance, University of Southern Maine's School of Music advisory board, and on the boards of the Maine Jazz Festival and the Maine Jazz Camp.