Born: February 26, 1956 Primary Instrument: Drums
Drummer/composer Steve Grover was born February 26, 1956 in Lewiston, Maine. He studied with the excellent local jazz drummer and teacher Dick Demers, and after studying at Berklee and the University of Maine, Steve landed a gig with guitar legend Lenny Breau. Steve worked with him on and off for the next few years, learning the subtleties of small group interplay with a master musician. In 1979, Grover attended a program at The Creative Music Studio, the music school run by Karl Berger, which had such visiting artists as Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, Lee Konitz, Bob Moses, and other musicians. At CMS, Steve was exposed to the concepts of artists from the world of jazz, new music, and world music.
In 1980 Grover teamed up with clarinetist Brad Terry, saxophonist Charlie Jennison and bassist John Hunter to form a group called The Friends of Jazz, which performed in Maine schools and communities. The group also played host to visiting artists, working with Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Tate, Gray Sargent and others while occasionally reconstituting itself with excellent players like pianist Chris Neville, trombonist Tim Sessions, bassists John Lockwood and Tom Bucci, guitarist Tony Gaboury, and other fine musicians.
In 1985, Steve composed Blackbird Suite, a song cycle setting for the Wallace Stevens poem Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird. Local performances of this piece garnered a grant for Steve to compose Splitting the World In Half, a collaboration with the poet Mark Melnicove that was performed at the Maine Festival in 1986. Several years passed before the 1991 premiere of Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird as a multi-media presentation involving the theater artist Lee Faulkner, which incorporated music, choreography, masks, mime, video, film, and slide projections. The piece was commissioned by the Maine Community Foundation and was staged at the Celebration Barn Theater in South Paris in June 1991. Performances followed at the Maine Festival and as part of a residency in May 1992 in the Farmington school system.
Further explorations of this piece continued into 1994, when Blackbird Suite won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz/BMI Jazz Composers Competition. For the first time the music involved the vocalist Christine Correa and the pianist Frank Carlberg, who performed the piece at the Kennedy Center in November 1994, as part of the Monk Institute’s competition. When a CD of the music was finally released in 1997, the reviews were excellent. Excerpts of the piece also helped Grover win, along with eleven other contestants, JAZZIZ magazine's Percussion On Fire talent search in 1996, securing a spot on the CD accompanying the February 1997 issue as part of the prize.
Steve's experience as an educator began when he was in the NEA sponsored Jazz Artist-In-Residence Program administered by bassist Larry Ridley, which ran from 1980-83. From 1984-97 Grover was a faculty member of The Maine Jazz Camp, with a stint as director from 1992-'94. Since 1985 Grover has been an adjunct faculty member at Bowdoin College, Bates College, and the University of Maine at Augusta. He served as Gifted/Talented instructor for several Maine schools from 1984-97. Grover was also a faculty member for The International Summer Jazz School, based in Cracow, Poland, in 1994- 95; and The New England Percussion School from 1998-2000.
As a jazz drummer, Grover has performed with Eddie Gomez, Marvin Stamm, Jerry Bergonzi, Chris Potter, Herb Pomeroy, Mick Goodrick, Hal Crook, Tony Malaby, Greg Tardy, Jeff Coffin, and others. Steve's own recordings feature many excellent musicians, including George Garzone, Frank Carlberg, Chris Speed, Tim Ray, Dave Ballou, Ben Street, and many already mentioned. Reviews of his CDs have appeared in Downbeat, JazzTimes, Cadence, and other publications.
Invisible Music Records released Consideration in 1999, which featured Steve’s music performed by a quintet. Remember was released in the summer of 2000, Steve’s first recording with long-time collaborator Brad Terry. A new release entitled Breath is scheduled for the spring of 2003. Guitarist Tony Gaboury's CD Empathy, released in the fall of 1999, is a project involving Grover on drums in addition to four of his compositions. Configurations, a 2001 release by guitarist Richard Nelson, is a CD featuring Steve on drums and two of his tunes. Additionally, several other artists have recorded his compositions.
It’s no exaggeration to say that every cut is a winner...There is a lot to hear, think about and enjoy on this great new CD from a Maine jazz master in his prime. --Up Beat
CD The Garden Above:
...every song on this album provides serious food for thought... In the title track, the melody line is so lyrically delivered you can almost hear a spoken word piece in the deep background... This trio prov[es] they’ve got a sense of adventure, and it’s that quality that makes this disc stand up to many repeated listens. You find something new every time. --The Portland Phoenix
Willing to teach:
B.M. Music Performance flexible hours; contact for rates www.stevegrover.com