Written by Grant Jackson from NPR
On this episode of Piano Jazz, guitarist and former Tonight Show bandleader Kevin Eubanks joins Marian McPartland for a set featuring music by Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane.
Eubanks grew up in Philadelphia, where he began studying the violin at 7 and later become proficient in piano and trumpet. When he was 12, Eubanks discovered what the guitar could do while attending a James Brown concert. When he told his parents he wanted to add guitar to his repertoire, they were less than excited and turned down his request for lessons. Undaunted, Eubanks acquired a guitar and began teaching himself.
Eubanks joined the Tonight Show band when the program premiered in May 1992 and wrote the show’s closing theme song, “Kevin’s Country.” He served as music director of The Tonight Show from 1995 until 2010.
In addition to his television work, Eubanks has released more than 20 albums in his 30-year career, including an appearance with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. His latest release is The Messenger. Eubanks has also scored the HBO Pictures presentation Rebound, and composed the score for the five-part PBS documentary series Black Westerners.
Eubanks has toured extensively other top jazz artists, including Branford Marsalis, Buster Williams, Dave Grusin and Ron Carter. He’s currently on tour as part of a double bill with fellow guitarist Stanley Jordan.
Originally recorded Nov. 16, 2000.