Brian Torff

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Brian Torff
Background information
Born (1954-03-16) March 16, 1954 (age 65)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, new-age
Associated actsMarian McPartland, George Shearing

Brian Q. Torff (born March 16, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American jazz double-bassist and composer.



Torff is a professor of music and the director of the music program at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut.[1] He makes frequent appearances at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts leading the Fairfield University Jazz Ensemble along with guest jazz artists including Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Bernard Purdie, Milt Hinton, Dave Samuels and Paul Wertico.


Torff is a bassist and composer. He is a featured bass soloist leading his own trio, and is the musical director for the Django Reinhardt New York Festival, which has appeared at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and Birdland in New York City. Torff has performed at Carnegie Hall for Fiddle Fest, where he appeared with Mark O'Connor, Dave Grusin, Regina Carter, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman. He performs in jazz festivals around the U.S., has founded the Fairfield University Summer Jazz Workshop and has served as co-chair person for the music advisory board for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Brian Torff’s professional career began in 1974 when bassist Milt Hinton offered him the opportunity of touring with Cleo Laine. During the late 70’s, Torff recorded and performed with pianists Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland, and toured Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong with jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. He played in pianist Erroll Garner's last group and worked in the big bands of Oliver Nelson, and The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.

In 1979, Brian Torff joined in a duo with pianist George Shearing. In the course of their three-and-a-half year collaboration, they toured throughout the U.S., Europe, Brazil, and South Africa and were featured on The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and their own PBS special from the Cafe Carlyle in New York City. They received worldwide acclaim and were invited to perform at the White House in 1982 for President Ronald Reagan. Their third album won a Grammy Award for vocalist Mel Tormé.

Composer and author[edit]

Torff has composed works with George Shearing and Larry Coryell and has composed scores that have been performed by the Boston Pops, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. He has appeared as conductor, composer, and clinician for numerous high school and college jazz festivals. He is the author of the book In Love With Voices: A Jazz Memoir (2008), which chronicles his early musical roots and portraits of musicians he has worked with, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Mary Lou Williams, Marian McPartland, Stephane Grappelli, and George Shearing. He leads the rock band Phantom Pluckers and the jazz band New Duke, which applies modern twists on the music of Duke Ellington.[2]


  • Forgotten Dreams (Flying Fish, 1980)
  • Hitchhiker of Karoo (Optimism, 1985)
  • Workin' on a Bassline (Bassline, 1997)
  • Manhattan Hoedown (Audiophile, 1998)
  • Union (Naim, 1998)
  • Life in East Bumblepuck (2006)

With George Shearing

With Sonny Stitt

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Fairfield University - Faculty - Dr. Brian Q. Torff Profile Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Brian Torff: Musician, Composer, Author, Teacher". Retrieved 24 December 2016.