Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Belden, Bob (James Robert Belden)

Belden, Bob [James Robert Belden], saxophonist, composer, producer, author; b. Evanston, IL, 31 October 31, 1956. He grew up in Goose Creek, South Carolina where his father Virgil Ray Belden (1902-59) was an amateur guitarist and his mother Mary Elizabeth Passailaigue Belden (b. 1920  ), was an amateur singer. His sister Beth plays piano and his brother Bill plays piano, keyboards, trombone and composes.
 Judith McBride was his high school band director (1967-73).

He went to the Brevard Music Camp for Orchestration and Opera Literature in 1972, where he was taught saxophone by Steve Girko. He studied saxophone with Jim Riggs (North Texas State University 1975), and composition with James Sellars (North Texas State University 1973), Dick Goodwin (University Of South Carolina 1974), and Martin Mailman (North Texas State University 1974-78). He studied arranging with Lou Marini, Sr (North Texas State University 1976) and Mark Taylor (North Texas State University 1977).
He began his studies in composition at the age of 16 while attending the University of North Texas, where he graduated in 1978, then was with Woody Herman's Orchestra for 18 months (recording "Live At Monterey").

Moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1983. Worked with Donald Byrd off and on during 1981-1985, played with the Mel Lewis Orchestra, and was involved in over 40 feature films and television movies that were recorded in Manhattan, including "Punchline," "Country," and "The Burning Bed." He also served as a staff arranger for ESPN 1984-88.

In 1986, he began an association with Red Rodney that produced two albums, "Code Red" (1986) being one of the first jazz albums to include hip-hop and rap. In 1989, he was signed to both Blue Note Records and Sunnyside Records as a solo artist. Began producing for Blue Note as well as other major jazz labels, leading up to the job of Director Of A&R for Blue Note in 1997. In 1993, he formed a recording ensemble (after 4 albums with his Ensemble) which began to mix jazz and electronica. His album "Come Together" was the first remix album by a single jazz artist ever to be released (1997). In 2001, Blue Note released "Black Dahlia", which is one of the biggest selling non-vocal orchestral albums of its era and also one of the first Blue Note CD's to be released on SACD. (Belden has produced over 75 SACD titles for Sony and Heads Up.) He has performed or recorded with Sting, Chaka Kahn, The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, Donald Byrd, Cassandra Wilson, Diane Reeves, Phil Perry, Philip Bailey, Woody Herman, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Wallace Roney, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Paul Motian, Gary Peacock, Tony Williams among others.

His re-imagining of "Turandot" was banned by the Puccini estate and has only been released in Japan (which has different copyright laws), becoming so rare that a copy will fetch $500 on E-Bay.

Soon he began working with Michael Cuscuna on the SONY/Columbia Miles Davis reissue program, where he has produced all of the major boxed sets since the early 1990s, as well as producing reissues by such artists as Herbie Hancock, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Jan Hammer, Maynard Ferguson, Cannonball Adderley, John Patton, Lee Morgan, Grant Green, Reuben Wilson, Lonnie Smith. He has also written numerous liner notes for albums, including very extensive and well-researched essays for the boxed sets, two of which he received a Grammy. He continues to perform on occasion.

3 Grammy Awards for work on Miles Davis boxes, 1996,1998
1 Grammy Nomination for "Re:Animation LIVE!" 2001

Treasure Island (1989); La Cigale (1990); Straight To My Heart: The Music Of Sting (1989-91); Turandot (1992 issued in Japan only); When Doves Cry (aka Purple Rain) (1993); PrinceJazz (1993); Shades Of Blue (1994-95); Shades Of Blue US (1994-95); Shades Of Red (1994-95); Blue Note 60th Anniversary box ("Then And Now") (1999); Strawberry Fields (1996); Tapestry (1997);  Come Together: DJ Remix Jam (1997); Re: Animation LIVE! (1999); Black Dahlia (2000)

As sideperson:
Tim Hagans: Audible Architecture (1996), Animation/Imagination (1998); Glenn Wilson: Elusive (1988)

As arranger:
McCoy Tyner: Journey (1992); Herbie Hancock: The New Standard (1995); Denise Jannah: I Was Born In Love With You (1995); Joe Henderson: Joe Henderson Big Band (1996); Joe Henderson: Porgy And Bess (1997); Gary Smulyan: Blue Suite (1999); The Classical Jazz Quartet: The Nutcracker (2001), Plays Bach (2002), Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor (2003); Philip Bailey: Soul On Jazz (2001); James Moody: Homage (2004)

Unissued recordings:
"The Four Seasons" with Patrick Gallois, rec. for DG but banned.
At least four unissued albums worth of material recorded for Blue Note between 1992-98.

Radio and TV broadcasts:
Bravo Profile "Herbie Hancock"
"Blue Note: The Story Of Modern Jazz" (documentary film suggested initially by Belden to SDR)

Film and TV Soundtracks:
Composed score to "The Riff" (2000)  and "Three Days Of Rain" (2001)

Down Beat 1994 and 2001 (feature story)
Jazz Times 2001 (feature story)
Interview from 2001 at http://www.wcpn.org/spotlight/jazz/bob-belden.html

Contact information:

Video site: www.youtube.com/beldenvideonetwork

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