The Kennedy Center

Brian Torff



Biography

Brian Torff, music program director at Fairfield University, is a featured bass soloist and performs with his seven-piece band Thunderstick, as well as the Union trio and many other groups. He appears in jazz festivals around the U.S., has founded the Fairfield University Summer Jazz Camp, and has served as cochair of the music advisory board for the National Endowment for the Arts. His professional career began in 1974 when bassist Milt Hinton offered him the opportunity to tour with Dame Cleo Laine. During the late'70s he recorded and performed with pianists Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland, and toured Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong with violin virtuoso Stephane Grappelli. He played in pianist Erroll Garner's last group and worked in the big bands of Oliver Nelson and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. In 1979, Mr. Torff joined in a duo with pianist George Shearing. In over three years of collaboration, they toured throughout the U.S., Europe, Brazil, and South Africa and were featured on the NBC Tonight Show, the Merv Griffin Show, and their own PBS special from New York's Cafe Carlyle. They received worldwide acclaim and were invited to perform at the White House in 1982 for President Reagan. Their third album won a Grammy for vocalist Mel Torme. Mr. Torff is also a composer who has contributed works for records with George Shearing, Larry Coryell, and his own Hitchhiker of Karoo, Manhattan Hoe-Down, and Workin' on a Bassline. He has written scores that have been performed by the Boston Pops, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. He is a regular columnist for Jazz Improv magazine. Mr. Torff appeared in the KC Jazz Club in January 2004 as part of the Center's first Django Reinhardt Festival, and again on October 27–29, 2005.

-Updated November 2007
Brian Torff