Steve Heckman was born in New York City. He grew up at an opportune time, getting exposed to the best jazz in the world during one of jazz's most creative periods, the mid-1960's. He began clarinet at 12, then alto and tenor sax, ultimately choosing tenor as his favorite horn. Over the years he also added soprano and baritone sax, as well as flute and alto flute. He has written 75 original jazz tunes. He is self-taught in improvisation, but thanks teachers Allen Fields, Ray Musiker and Carmine Caruso for assistance in the theoretical and technical grounding necessary to blow decent jazz.
The most significant spark to set his spirit on fire with love and enthusiasm for jazz was when, at age 15, he first heard the music of John Coltrane: Worlds split open, and he was propelled into a realm of unparallelled richness and dimension which has profoundly influenced his approach to both playing, as well as composition.
Listening to 'Trane's A Love Supreme from start to finish every day after school through 11th and 12th grade became his daily ritual; he also absorbed as much as possible, listening to everything he could find by Trane. Other significant influences include: Bird, Wayne Shorter, Charles Lloyd, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Pharoah Sanders, Yusef Lateef, Lee Konitz, Eric Dolphy, Dexter Gordon, George Coleman, Jackie McLean, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Rouse, Jimmy Guiffre, Michael Brecker, Steve Grossman, Bob Berg, Jan Garbarek, Billy Harper, Jerry Bergonzi, and many others too numerous to mention