Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Kirby, Steven (Thomas)
Kirby, Steven (Thomas), guitarist, composer, educator; b. San Francisco, CA, 8 May 1958. He has an older sister, Alice Sylvia Kirby (b. 1955). His mother is Anabel Joy Handy, a writer and teacher and his father was born Thomas Brady. He was then adopted and was given the name Kirby. His father is a noted fine art painter (see Who's Who in the West). were divorced in 1958. His family (without his father) moved to Geyserville in northern California in 1959 where they stayed until 1974 when the family moved to Bath, England where they remained. Steven began teaching himself the guitar at age 9 with folk guitar books and by listening to recordings. In 1975 he began playing electric guitar in local rock bands and studying classical guitar passing the Royal College of Music pre-college Grade 5 exam in 1978. Graduating from school with English "O" levels in 1976; he left home and practiced intensively. In 1978 he moved to Bristol to join a series of bands there. He shared an apartment with writer and jazz aficionado Christopher Greaves who introduced him to his huge jazz record collection. This was a big influence and turning point in his musical life.
The most notable music ensemble he was involved with during this period was "Sahaja", an all acoustic quartet of 12 string guitar (played by Kirby), 6 string guitar, violin and percussion which performed an amalgam of ECM jazz, rock, folk and Indian music influenced material featuring much improvisation. They toured the college circuit in England and opened for acts like John Renbourn and Dire Straits. 1979 Kirby attended the Barrie Jazz Camp in Wales and studied with English jazz guitarist Phil Lee who encouraged him to consider studying in the USA.
In 1980 he returned to the USA and began studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA on a partial scholarship. He met and soon married flutist Kristine Beasom (now Kirby) in 1981 while they were both students at The John Payne Music School in a jazz ensemble there taught by bassist Bob Sincrope. He graduated from Berklee Cum Laude with a diploma in Professional Music in 1985. During his time there he received multiple merit scholarships. He studied guitar primarily with Bret Wilmott and had master classes with John Scofield and Gary Burton.
After graduation, Kirby continued to study and compose and was active as a player locally. He studied for a short while with Wolfgang Muthspiel and for a number of years with famed jazz teacher Charlie Banacos (1984-86 & 1994). In 1986 his daughter Katherine Poornima was born. From 1986 to 1989 his toured extensively (32 states and the Caribbean) with various bands the most notable being a version of the doo-wop group The Platters. In 1989 he played a 3-month gig in NYC at the Marriot in Times Square. Upon returning to Massachusetts he decided to re-dedicate himself to jazz and began composing, performing and teaching private guitar lessons at home and as part of the faculty at Indian Hill Arts Music School.
He played a short tour of Europe in 1998 to promote the release of his album Point of Balance. All during this time Kirby was playing a combination of jazz gigs with his own group and as a sideman with other Boston area musicians and classical guitar and flute gigs and concerts with his wife.
Kirby built a reputation for performing exciting, melodic, lyrical and expressive mainstream and contemporary jazz. He has performed and/or recorded with Chris Potter, George Garzone, Scott Colley, Bruce Barth, Harvie Swartz, Joe Hunt, Bevan Manson, George Schuller, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Mark Shilansky, Phil Grenadier, Bruce Gertz , Matthias Lupri, Matt Malley ( of the rock band Counting Crows), and many others. During the course of his 20 + year professional playing career Steven has toured throughout the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe including appearances at the festivals in Italy, the Edinburgh Festival, Scotland; the Bath Arts Festival, Bath, England. US festival appearances included Boston Globe Jazz Festival, Discover Jazz Festival (Vermont), Indian Hill Arts Festival, Regattabar Jazz Festival, Boston First Night, and Worcester First Night. He has performed at many well-known jazz venues in the US including Regattabar, Ryles, Berklee Performance Center, Knitting Factory, Cleopatra's Needle, Mechanics Hall, and Las Vegas Convention Center and at college venues including Harvard, North Adams, and Brandeis.
Press coverage of Steven Kirby's music has appeared in many notable publications including Jazz Times, Guitar Player, Jazz Improv Magazine, Jazz Now, Just Jazz Guitar, 20th Century Guitar, Boston Globe, All About Jazz and many others
Kirby's music has been featured nationwide on over 100 jazz radio stations in US and Canada and Europe. He has also composed and/or performed music for documentaries, TV productions and commercials.
Kirby is a Cum Laude graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he was the recipient of multiple merit scholarships. In addition he has studied with Gary Burton, John Scofield, Adam Rogers, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Bret Willmott and Charles Banacos. He is currently on the faculty of Indian Hill Arts Center teaching guitar performance, ear training and theory as well as teaching at his home studio in Concord, MA. He currently lives in Concord, MA with his wife Kristine and daughter K. Poornima Kirby.
Point of Balance (1998); North Light (2003)
Original compositions featured on:
Yoshi Andoh: You And Me (1984); It Is: Dogmatic Life (1995, unreleased; Alla Breve Duo: Alla Breve Duo (1999); Tony D'Aveny: Winter Wonderland (2000); Celia Slattery: Movin' On (2001)
About 20 unissued recordings of live jazz concerts and sessions between 1995 and 2003 with a variety of musicians including George Garzone, Matthias Lupri, Bevan Manson, Harvie Swartz, George Schuller, Tony D'Aveny, Mark Shilansky, Bill Vint, Tim Miller and many others.
Radio and television broadcasts:
Has been interviewed/ played live on numerous jazz radio stations/shows including WBUR (Eric In the Evening) 1998 & 2003 ( Here and Now) 1998, WERS (Jazz Oasis) 1998, WHRB (Jazz Programming) 1998, WHCN (Jazz Brunch) 1998, WICN (A Tasteful Blend) 1998, 1999
-Composed and performed the majority of the score for the documentary about the life of Ghandi associate, Free -India activist/ Peace activist, Sahaja Yoga founder and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Nirmala Devi Shrivastava (Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi). The documentary, called "The Vision" (1993), has been broadcast and distributed worldwide.
Articles about Steven Kirby
Guitar Player Magazine (instructional article and short profile) January 1999
Jazz Improv Magazine (article & transcription of "Point Of Balance" guitar solo) Vol.1 No.3 1998
978 287 0244