Kevin Eubanks Returns with Compositions Written for Concert with Students

Allen Bush
October 13, 2010
Kevin Eubanks has created an imaginative program especially for Berklee students to bring to life.
Photo by Raj Naik

Berklee alumnus Kevin Eubanks—the famed guitarist, composer, and recording artist who was seen by millions of TV viewers as the music director with the Tonight Show Band—returns to his alma mater for a concert with a group of students performing music specifically composed for this special event. Ballet and hip-hop dancers; English, Swahili, and Portuguese spoken word artists, and an MC will complete Eubanks's expansive vision for this concert.

Ensemble Zen, directed by Kevin Eubanks, takes place on Friday, October 22, 7:30 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets are $10 and are available at the BPC box office and at Ticketmaster via the web or at 800 745-3000. For more information, visit the BPC website or call 617 747-2261. The venue is wheelchair accessible. 

The concert title refers to Eubanks's new CD, Zen Food, to be released on November 23 on Mack Avenue Records. Leading up the concert, Eubanks will rehearse the students, with assistance from Terri Lyne Carrington, Percussion Department professor; Ron Savage, chair of the Ensemble Department; and Bill Pierce, chair of Berklee's Woodwind Department and the saxophone player in Eubanks's performing and recording group. 

A native of Philadelphia, Eubanks enrolled at Berklee in 1976. After leaving the college in 1979, he moved to New York and played with such luminaries as Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Slide Hampton, Sam Rivers, Ron Carter, and others before launching his own career. He performs regularly with the Kevin Eubanks Group, has appeared on more than 100 albums, and has recorded many of his own for the Blue Note, GRP, and Insoul Music labels. He composes music for TV movies and feature films. Eubanks joined the Tonight Show Band in 1992, and within three years he was directing the band, had penned the show's new closing theme, and was seen as Jay Leno's sidekick. He departed as music director of the Tonight Show Band in 2010. 

Eubanks has plenty of experience enriching the lives of young musicians; among his teaching credentials, he is the artistic director of the Jazz in the Classroom program for the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, where he works with middle and high school musicians in the Los Angeles public schools. In 2005, Berklee presented Eubanks with an honorary doctor of music degree.