DERRICK E. GARDNER – Trumpeter, Band Leader, Composer/Arranger, Educator
Jazz trumpeter Derrick Gardner, inspired by the finest hard-blowing funky bop bands of the 1960s, is working to extend that great tradition as a performer, composer and arranger.
Derrick quickly made his mark on the New York City jazz scene after arriving in the Big Apple in 1991. and it has enabled him to travel the world playing top-flight jazz – including five years in the Count Basie Orchestra (1991 to 1996 plus occasional guest appearances that have continued into 2010), as well as work in Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Band, Harry Connick Jr.’s Big Band, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and Swiss tenor player Roman Schwaller’s European sextet.
Derrick formed his own sextet, The Jazz Prophets, in 1991, and 23 years later it continues to be the primary vehicle of his distinctive, hard-driving music. Derrick’s latest recording by The Jazz Prophets, "Echoes of Ethnicity," marked his second Owl Studios release in April '09 and recently named by Music Resource Group (MRG) as the winner in the 9th annual Independent Music Awards, the influential awards program for independent bands and fans, for “Best Jazz Album 2009.” This prestigious award adds to the long list of accolades “Echoes of Ethnicity” has received in 2009. Like his two previous recordings, "A Ride to the Other Side" and "Slim Goodie," it bubbles with the long-standing collective’s sheer love of the soulful, funky jazz sound for which Cannonball Adderley and Horace Silver built solid foundations with their 1950s and ‘60s ensembles. Only they’re taking that sound into new, invigorating territory. The band’s three-man horn line, consisting of Derrick, tenor saxophonist Rob Dixon and Derrick’s brother, trombonist Vincent Gardner has been together since the very beginning.
Born in Chicago, Derrick began playing trumpet at age 9 and rapidly developed as a player and soloist, regarded highly throughout high school and college at Virginia’s Hampton University as an imaginative and strong improviser. As jazz journalist Ken Franckling points out in the liner notes for A Ride to the Other Side.., Derrick is “a Clifford Brown disciple with tinges of Freddy Hubbard and Woody Shaw thrown in for good measure, all in service of a sound and a band that are extending the funky soul-swing evolution.”
In addition to his own recordings, Derrick has performed on multiple recordings with the Count Basie Orchestra, including the Grammy-winning The Count Basie Orchestra Live at Manchester Craftman's Guild, with the New York Voices in 1997, and four sessions with Harry Connick Jr., including 2007’s Hurricane Katrina-inspired Oh, My Nola.
His work has brought him to Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, South Africa and Thailand as well as many premier venues in the United State, working with a tremendous litany of artists that includes late Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Frank Foster, Joe Williams, Rufus Reid, Kenny Baron, Stefon Harris, James Moody and Clark Terry. Derrick is currently the Babs Asper Professor in Jazz Performance at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.