2014 Downbeat Rising Star Trombone Award Winner and Rising Star Vocalist Nominee Vincent Gardner (born in Chicago, Illinois) is an trombonist and composer. As a bandleader, Gardner has released four albums under the SteepleChase record label. He performs with his own groups frequently, in addition to being the lead trombonist for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (which also features Wynton Marsalis). Gardner also performs often with his brother, trumpeter Derrick Gardner and his ensemble, The Jazz Prophets.
Being born into a musical family in which both his father, Burgess Gardner, a trumpeter who has played with many groups including Ray Charles, Count Basie, and Horace Silver, and his mother, a pianist and choir director, are both music educators, Gardner was surrounded by music at an early age. The family moved to East Lansing, Michigan when Gardner was five, while his mother and father completed their doctorate studies at Michigan State University, and then to Virginia Beach, VA when Gardner was six years old, later settling in Hampton, VA. His mother being a church musician, he was at church often for services and choir rehearsals, and began singing in the choir as soon as he was of age, providing him with his earliest musical experiences.
As a beginning musician, Gardner started on the Violin, but soon switched to saxophone and French horn. Around age 13, since his father and brother both played trumpet, he decided to play trombone. He developed an interest in jazz music around the 11th grade after being selected to play in the Hampton All-City Jazz Ensemble, and being introduced to jazz trombonist J.J. Johnson by its director.