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Steve Griggs

Primary Instrument: Saxophone

Born: 1960    

Steve Griggs

The first jazz record I heard was Cannonball Adderley’s Live at the Club. Music laughed and cried while the audience clapped and shouted encouragement. The experience of that feeling became my calling.

For 37 years I studied, performed, composed, recorded and taught music. A peak experience came in 1998 when I recorded with drummer Elvin Jones. Before the recording his wife said, “The music may be good or bad. What’s important is the feeling.” Sage advice – craft should be subservient to authentic expression.

At a concert of 19th century Spanish guitar music I recognized that authenticity again – an abstract expression of pain and joy. I also heard the same emotional warmth echoed in 20th century Brazilian composer Heitor Villa- Lobos. I envisioned a bridge between the feeling in his music and jazz....
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Awards

2014: National Park Service Japanese Confinement Sites Grant 2014: Chamber Music America Residency Partnership Program 2013: ASCAP/Chamber Music America Adventurous Programing - Ensemble Category 2012: 4Culture Historic Site Specific project grant to create music and spoken word concerts at the Panama Hotel based on Oscar Holden, the patriarch of Seattle Jazz 2012: 4Culture Individual Artist Grant to collect oral histories for a biography of saxophonist/educator Joe Brazil 2010: Longfellow Chorus Award of Distinction in the 2010 Composition Competition 2001: Earshot Jazz Voice and Vision Series 2001: Gavin National Jazz Radio Charts for “Steve Griggs Quintet LIVE!” #17 with 56 stations reporting 2001: ASCAPLUS Award 2000: Voice of America radio play for “Jones for Elvin – Volume 2” 2000: ASCAPLUS Award 1999: ASCAPLUS Award 1997: Jack Straw Foundation Artist Assistance Award

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”Griggs neither showboats nor intellectualizes during performance. On the 'Jones for Elvin' recordings, his saxophone tone is warm and inviting, sometimes as smoky and intoxicating as an opium den. Other times it is lucid and airy, almost transparent, as if a spirit's breath was blowing through his instrument. While not a copy of Coltrane's style, Griggs' playing is imbued with a meditative presence. It is an expression of how he feels about jazz, though he also is appreciative of his classical training.” - Roberta Penn, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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