Primary Instrument: Guitar
With long, blues-drenched melodic lines, and a fat, warm, horn-like sound, guitarist and composer Bob DeVos has his own signature style. Critics universally cite Mr. DeVos' full, liquid tone and soulful, intelligent interpretations and superb, modern compositional skiils. Hailed as the thinking man's guitar hero and a brilliant, knowing bebop player, Bob's CDs as a leader for Savant/HighNote and Blues Leaf Records have earned high praise and many stars in Downbeat and throughout the jazz media. His 2006 CD Shifting Sands on Savant was 28 weeks in the top twenty on JazzWeek.com's National Airplay Chart and on many top ten jazz CDs of 2006 and a WBGOFM Jazz Radio Play of the Month. Playing For Keeps on Savant was released in late October 2007 and is currently # 9 on JazzWeek.com's chart of national airplay.
A musically mature and versatile guitarist, composer, and arranger, Bob is a modern player with strong traditional roots. He is equally at home with straight-ahead jazz, Rhythm & Blues, funk, jazz fusion and more.
Formative Jazz Experience
Bob started in jazz as a student of Harry Leahy and the legendary Dennis Sandole. In 1970, when Sandole sent his leading students out to audition for the brilliant organist Trudy Pitts, Bob was chosen to step in for Pat Martino. Bob went on to be the guitarist for groups led by Richard Groove Holmes, featuring saxophone legend Sonny Stitt, and Jimmy McGriff and Hank Crawford. He later toured and recorded extensively with organist Charles The Mighty Burner Earland’s group that included Eric Alexander and Jim Rotondi . He further developed his compositional and harmonic skills playing with many jazz greats outside the organ trio genre.
As a member of the Jimmy McGriff-Hank Crawford Quartet, Mr. DeVos appeared in the PBS-TV video Live From Elario’s, aired nationwide on PBS’s Club Date series. He toured as a member of saxophonist Gerry Neiwood’s group Timepiece with Grammy winner Dave Samuels. As a member of composer Teo Macero’s Nonet, Bob recorded and performed with Pepper Adams, Dave Leibman, and Dick Oatts. He has also performed and/or recorded with Eric Alexander, Harry Allen, Freddy Cole, Junior Cook, Joey DeFrancesco, Kenny Drew, Jr., Bill Doggett, Billy Drummond, Joe Farnsworth, Larry Goldings, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Billy Hart, Screaming Jay Hawkins, David Hazeltine, Etta Jones, Gladys Knight, Mike LeDonne, Gene Ludwig, Pat Martino, Jack MacDuff, Ron McClure, Hendrik Meurkens, David Fathead Newman, Adam Nussbaum, Houston Person, Irene Reid, Rufus Reid, Mike Richmond, Jim Rontondi, Bob Sheppard, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Grady Tate, Stanley Turrentine, Dave Valentin, Ray Vega, Kenny Washington, Jerry Weldon, Buddy Williams, and many, many others.
Bob leads his own innovative Bod DeVos Organ Trio with Dan Kostelnik on the Hammond B3 organ and Steve Johns on drums. Bob's 2006 CD is Shifting Sands, HighNote/Savant records. Shifting Sands was in the top twenty of Jazz Week's national airplay charts for 28 weeks ands on many Top Ten Jazz CD's of 2006 Lists. It debuted at Live at J & R in a national live broadcast over WBGOJazz Radio 88.3FM. The CD features many of Bob's tunes. Playing on the CD are Bob's trio and Eric Alexander as guest tenor player, and Gary Fritz lending percussion to two tracks. Listen for eagerly anticipated late October 2007 release of Playing For Keeps on Savant. Bob is also a member of the forward-thinking Ron McClure Quartet and is a member and featured performer with the New York Jazz Repertory Orchestra under the leadership of Bill Warfield. Bob collaborates frequently with Hendrik Meurkens, Onaje Allan Gumbs, and in trio with Mike McGuirk and Billy Drummond.
Bob was the musical director and guitarist for the smashing all-star AN ORGAN SUMMIT SUPREME that honored Jimmy McGriff and reunited Bob with Dr. Lonnie Smith, David Fathead Newman, Trudy Pitts, Houston Person, Gene Ludwig & attracted an audience of over 1,200. WBGOJazzradio 88.3FM was the event media sponsor.
In recent years, Bob has performed at the Kennedy Center, The Kimmel Center, The Blue Note, Iridium, SMOKE, The Jazz Bakery, Sweet Basil, Birdland, The Kitano, Zanzibar Blue, Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base, B.B.King's, The Van Dyke Café, and numerous festivals in the US and worldwide, including the JVC Jazz Festivals in New York City and Miami Beach, and The San Francisco Jazz Festival. An in-demand freelance player, he is heard frequently on jazz stations nationwide.
Mr. DeVos is on the music faculty at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and, teaches privately. An innovative and sensitive teacher, he has done extensive work in jazz clinics and has also taught at William Paterson University. He is a past artist-in-residence at Arts High, Newark, NJ, the nation's first performing arts secondary school.
Mr. DeVos’ writing has been cited by the New Jersey Council on the Arts where he is a past grant recipient for composition. Critics universally cite and acclaim his composing for both his first CD as a leader and the CDs of others: Breaking the Ice, Rue de La Burner, and Tri-Hog-Myth on Breaking the Ice (Savant); Maine-Stay, Shorter Story, West Side Blues, and In Search of Times Lost on Match Point (Steeplechase, with the Ron McClure Quartet); Pause for Fred’s Claws on Groove ORGANization, with the Gene Ludwig Trio (BluesLeaf); and Memorial Day on Keepers of the Flame: Charles Earland, (HighNote, with the Charles Earland Tribute Band anchored by Joey DeFrancesco). Shorter Story and Shifting Sands have been recorded by West Coast tenor great Bob Sheppard on Sheppard's In The Now and Tell Tale Signs (BMG Records. Breaking The Ice, arranged for big band by Bill Warfield for his NY Repertory Orchestra will appear on a forthcoming CD (BluesLeaf) featuring Gene Ludwig and Bob. Bob's modern compositional skills are showcased on Shifting Sands and Playing For Keeps and are critically hailed.
And for Those of You Interested in Some Early History...
No one in the family played a musical instrument, but Bob absorbed standards and the best of Big Band and Rhythm and Blues from listening to his parents’ and older brother’s record collections. Bob picked up the guitar at age twelve, within weeks was memorizing guitar solos off of his brother’s records, and was performing professionally at thirteen. While a teenager, he toured nationwide with a famous rock group, but— more telling for his future— he was exploring the soul jazz clubs of Newark, New Jersey.
Rock could not meet the needs of his musical creativity and intellect; I needed more chord changes... In his early twenties, he chose jazz over rock. He was soon inspired by Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Pat Martino. He subsequently recorded with Martino. He studied with Harry Leahy (guitar), Edgar Grana (composition), and the legendary Dennis Sandole (guitar and composition).
Radiating keen intelligence and impeccable taste, DeVos’ playing extends beyond the parameters of the soul-jazz genre. The guitarist plays expressive, melodically oriented solos and incisive accompaniment…his logical, flowing lines beckon both the aficionado and casual listener. —David Orthmann, All About Jazz