Born: September 25, 1972 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
Rob Derke - saxophonist, educator, composer, arranger, producer, and conductor - has become known to a growing audience for his extreme versatility. Although he has made a statement in many musical styles, Rob has consistently incorporated his varied experience into jazz saxophone. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he was educated at New York City's LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, later receiving his BM from the Manhattan School of Music and his MM from SUNY Purchase.
Rob Derke has worked with or appeared with such jazz greats as Red Rodney, Davey Schildkraut, Clark Terry, the Heath brothers, Jon Faddis, Ray Vega, and Randy Brecker. His appearances have included performances as a player, conductor, and composer at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Town Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Radio City Music Hall, JVC Jazz Festival, various Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, and numerous clubs and radio broadcasts throughout the country.
In addition to being deeply rooted in the Jazz tradition, Rob Derke developed an interest in new musical styles in his playing and compositions - notably, European classical and avant-garde, as well as various ethnic music traditions which have since been explored in his travels to more than 20 foreign countries. His suite for woodwinds, percussion, and strings, titled Khyal and based on the Quwwali vocal tradition, was premiered at Carnegie Hall. In addition to composing and exploring original material for his own ensembles, Rob Derke's recordings as a studio composer and producer for Grammy-nominated projects associated with hit TV shows and documentaries have been featured for weeks on the Billboard charts.
As the Artistic Director of NY JAZZ Initiative, Rob Derke has become a highly sought after and nationally recognized Jazz educator. He has also served as an active presenter at clinics and conferences in addition to having written educational articles for various publications.
“The direction that jazz most needs to follow is the one that points forward. With roots planted firmly in the past, a knowledge of history, a reverence for wisdom that is passed down, and relevant experience, those who will contribute to and secure the growth and future of this artform will be those with an eye on, and compass pointing toward the future. The NYJAZZ Initiative, with Rob Derke's leadership, is focused on these very common sense understandings. Rob has organized a team of highly developed, sensitive, creative and determined educators and artists. These contributors embody the kinds of essential qualities required for the aforementioned forward movement the music needs, not just to survive, but to have a brilliant future.” - Eric Nemeyer, Publisher, Jazz Inside Magazine | Jazz Inside NY, Groove News