Bob Belden

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For the football player, see Bob Belden (American football).
Bob Belden
Birth name James Robert Belden
Born (1956-10-31)October 31, 1956
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Died May 20, 2015(2015-05-20) (aged 58)
Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, New York, U.S.
Genres Jazz, big band, fusion
Occupation(s) Saxophonist, composer, arranger, band leader and producer
Instruments Tenor and soprano saxophone, keyboards
Years active 1970s–2015
Labels Sunnyside, Blue Note, RareNoise
Associated acts Woody Herman, Tim Hagans

James Robert "Bob" Belden (October 31, 1956 – May 20, 2015) was an American saxophonist, arranger, composer, bandleader, and producer.[1] As a composer he may be best known for his Grammy Award winning orchestral jazz recording, Black Dahlia (2001).[2] As producer he is mostly associated with the remastering of seminal recordings by trumpeter Miles Davis for Columbia Records.


Belden was born in Evanston, Illinois, but grew up in the Charleston, South Carolina suburb of Goose Creek. He briefly attended the University of South Carolina where he met composer Jay Knowles who introduced him to the music of Gil Evans. He then studied saxophone and composition at the University of North Texas before joining the Woody Herman band.

He recorded his first album Treasure Island in 1990. This was followed by a series of adventurous albums featuring jazz-tinged arrangements of contemporary pop songs culminating with Black Dahlia in 2001.

In 2008, he arranged and produced Miles from India, a world fusion music recording based on the compositions of Miles Davis for which he assembled a group made up of Davis alumni and musicians from India.[3] In addition to his work as arranger, composer, conductor and A & R director, Belden contributed numerous liner notes for noted recordings, such as "Lou's Blues" by Lou Marini and the Magic City Jazz Orchestra.

Some of his work as the author of numerous liner notes has received Grammy Awards.[4][5] In early 2015 Belden became the first American musician in 35 years to bring a band from the USA to perform in Iran.[6]

Belden died of a heart attack on May 20, 2015, at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. He was 58.[7][8]


Solo albums[edit]

  • 1990: Treasure Island (Sunnyside)
  • 1990: La Cigale (Sunnyside)
  • 1991: Straight to My Heart: The Music of Sting (Blue Note), The Bob Belden Ensemble
  • 1994: When the Doves Cry: The Music of Prince (Metro Blue)
  • 1996: Shades of Blue (Blue Note), compilation of his productions for the label
  • 1996: Bob Belden Presents Strawberry Fields (Blue Note), re-arrangements of The Beatles songs
  • 1997: Tapestry - The Blue Note Cover Series (Blue Note)
  • 2001: Black Dahlia (Blue Note), inspired by the Black Dahlia crime case
  • 2006: Three Days of Rain (Sunnyside)
With Animation


With the McCoy Tyner Big Band
  • 1991: The Turning Point (Verve) - conductor
  • 1993: Journey (Verve) - conductor
With New York City Horns
With Paquito D'Rivera conducted by Bob Belden
With Tim Hagans
  • 1999: Re-Animation Live! (Blue Note)
With Nicholas Payton, Sam Yahel, John Hart, Billy Drummond

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Bob Belden at All About Jazz
  2. ^ Bob Belden profile,; accessed May 20, 2015.
  3. ^ Article on "Miles From India",; accessed May 20, 2015.
  4. ^ "Belden, Bob (James Robert Belden)". Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. 
  5. ^ "Jazz Lives Thanks to Veteran Reissue Producers". Billboard. 113 (27): 68. July 7, 2001. 
  6. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff. "Bringing Cultures Together in Pice". Retrieved 2015-05-24. 
  7. ^ Stutz, Colin (May 20, 2015). "Bob Belden, Jazz Saxophonist & Renaissance Man, Dead at 58". Billboard. Retrieved May 21, 2015. 
  8. ^ Gans, Charles J. (May 20, 2015). "Noted jazz saxophonist Bob Belden dies in NYC at age 58". Sun Herald. Associated Press. Retrieved May 21, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Bob Belden". Discography. Retrieved 2015-05-24. 

External links[edit]