THE SOUND THAT BECOMES A PART OF YOU
Born in East Baltimore, Maryland, Steve grew up cultivating a deep love and respect for jazz music, picking up the sax at age seven. He attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, then went on to graduate from Frederick Douglass High, a school with a rich musical legacy whose alumni include Cab Calloway, Eubie Blake, and Ellis Larkin. His early influences were John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Grover Washington Jr., Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon and Freddie Hubbard.
Following graduating in 1986, Steve was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, he studied with saxophonist Bill Pierce, formerly of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. After Berklee, Steve moved to New York, where he played with the Charles Mingus Epitaph, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Hargrove, Milt Hinton, plus Frank Wess and Jimmy Heath (at the same time!), among many others.
In the early-mid 1990s, Steve decided to revisit his roots, to give something back to the community that had nurtured him. He joined the faculty of the Jazz Mentoring Program at the Eubie Blake Center for Cultural Arts, where one of his star students was Quincy Phillips, who’s played with late great Roy Hargrove. Continuing his musical pursuits in the Baltimore/Washington area, Steve performed with Ruby Glover, Phillip Harper, Theodros Avery, Grady Tate, and Cyrus Chestnut, who has Steve on his third Atlantic album, “Earth Stories,” along side Antonio Hart and Eddie Allen.
Returning to New York, Steve sat in and performed with the the likes of the late Elvin Jones, Joey DeFrancesco, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Wynton Marsalis, Wessel “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Eric Lewis (ELEW) and Chick Corea. He is close friends with his mentor Kenny Garrett. In a symbolic passing of the torch, Kenny gifted Steve with a saxophone in 2012. Long distances don’t prevent these two from sharing impromptu jam sessions via FaceTime, even when Kenny is on the road!
As leader of his own group, Steve has opened for jazz giants Abbey Lincoln, Lionel Hampton, Stanley Turrentine, and Milt Hinton. Currently, Steve is a part of the legendary drummer Greg Bandy’s band: Greg has played for many years with Pharoah Sanders, Stanley Turrentine and Yusef Lateef. Steve is also a member of the Valery Ponomarev "Our Father Who Art Blakey" Big Band. Valery is a Jazz messenger being an elder Alumni of the great Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers." Steve is also the Saxophonist and member of Cyrus Chestnut's African Reflections Band and Cyrus Chestnut's Quartet. As Of the Past couple of years Steve has been performing with the Legendary Famed Funk/ R & B Group Kool and the Gang as well. As the world was being shaken by the present COVID-19 Pandemic Steve was not sitting still and music continues to flow. Steve has become apart of the Dizzy Gillespie Legacy Bands under the direction of the legendary Bassist and grammy award winning engineer John Lee in whom was Dizzy's longtime bassist. Steve is proud to have released his debut album A Caring Tone on Samech records, which is available on ITunes, Amazon, and Google Play and all social Media Platforms. After returning from European Tour with Kool and The Gang in October 2019 Steve's released a new record entitled "Mind Traveler" . During the Pandemic Steve assembled a stellar group of musicians across generations to record and release a new CD coming in January of 2023 to be called "Far Beyond The Horizon". This new CD will include Cyrus Chestnut(Piano), Freddie Hendrix(Trumpet and Flugelhorn), Mark Whitfield Sr. (Guitar), Corey Wilcox(Trombone), Mark Whitfield Jr.(Drums), Davis Whitfield(Piano and Nord Keyboard), Kenny Davis(Bass), Alexander Claffy(Bass), Rudy Bird(Percussion).