Steve Grossman was born January 18th, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York. He started practicing the alto saxophone in elementary school. At the same time he became very interested in Jazz, especially in the music of Charlie Parker. After which he became immersed in Be-Bop and his main influence was Jackie McLean.
At 13 years old, Steve Grossman was working on week ends with his older brother Hal, who played trumpet. They modeled themselves after Nat and Cannonball Adderley. They had a quintet called 'The Uniques' and with this group they performed at the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival and also on some public television shows.
Steve became a professional jazz musician at 16 years old. His first important gig was with Elvin Jones featuring Wilbur Ware and Billy Green at 'Pookie's Club'. It was July 1967. "At that time I was strongly influenced by Coltrane's music and I started to play soprano almost exclusively. Obviously the next step was to play tenor which occured six months later" he says.
In 1968 Steve joined a group called The Jazz Samaritans. This group had many young musicians who later became well known including Billy Cobham, Lennie White, Clint Houston, George Cables. About this time, he met Miles Davis. Steve Grossman's collaboration with Miles is documented by six records that were made between November 1968 and August 1970.
After six months of freelancing Steve joined Elvin Jones in late 1971 and stayed with him until 1976. Steve played with many different musicians in Elvin's group : Jimmy Garrison, David Williams, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Gene Perla, Frank Foster, Joe Farrell, Junior Cook, Dave Liebman.
In the late seventies, Steve Grossman became a leader of his own groups. He started to travel around the world performing in many important festivals leading various quartets and trios. He had some very important encounters with musicians like Elvin Jones, Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins, David Williams, Art Taylor, Walter Bishop Jr, Louis Hayes, Peter Washington, McCoy Tyner, Johnny Griffin, Harold Land, Jimmy Cobbb, Tom Harrell, John Hicks.
In february 91, Steve signed a long-term exclusive recording agreement with Francis Dreyfus's label 'Dreyfus Jazz', in Paris. The first album released on this label entitled DO IT was recorded in April 1991 with Barry Harris, Art Taylor and Reggie Johnson. The public's response and the reviews of the critics were enthusiastic. The same enthusiastic response was shown for IN NEW YORK, an outstanding collaboration of McCoy Tyner, Art Taylor and Avery Sharpe. In 1993, Steve also recorded SMALL HOTEL with Cedar Walton, David Williams and Billy Higgins, a hard-swinging session that demonstrates his incredible talent and maturity. Also in 1993 was recorded TIME TO SMILE with Elvin Jones, Tom Harrell, Cecil McBee and Willie Pickens. In March 1996, release of BOUNCING WITH MR. A.T, with Art Taylor and Tyler Mitchell.
The saxophonist has always shown a great sense of playing and a genius for improvisation in his formations, notably in the recent albums Steve Grossman Quartet with Michel Petrucciani and Steve Grossman/Johnny Griffin Quintet.
Photo credit : Jacky Lepage