Dave Samuels

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Dave Samuels
Samuels teaching a class at the Music School of Montevideo, 2010.
Samuels teaching a class at the Music School of Montevideo, 2010.
Background information
Birth nameDavid Alan Samuels
Born(1948-10-09)October 9, 1948
Waukegan, Illinois, U.S.
DiedApril 22, 2019(2019-04-22) (aged 70)
GenresJazz, contemporary jazz, Latin jazz
Instrument(s)Vibraphone, Marimba
Years active1974–2019
LabelsEnja, ECM, MCA, GRP, Heads Up, Verve
Dave Samuels at Aarhus Jazz Festival (Denmark 2009)

David Alan Samuels (October 9, 1948 – April 22, 2019)[1] was an American vibraphone and marimba player who spent many years with the contemporary jazz group Spyro Gyra. His recordings and live performances during that period also reflect his prowess on the steelpan, a tuned percussion instrument of Trinidadian origin.


Samuels was born in Waukegan, Illinois, United States.[1] At the age of six he started playing drums and piano. He learned vibes and marimba while a student at Boston University. He continued his studies at the Berklee College of Music, also in Boston, and studied with vibraphonist Gary Burton. He taught percussion at Berklee before moving to New York City in 1974. Soon he was recording and performing with Gerry Mulligan, Carla Bley, and Gerry Niewood. He played in a vibes/marimba duo with David Friedman, who had been his teacher at Boston, releasing albums under the name Double Image.[2][3]

In 1979 he began recording with Spyro Gyra, eventually becoming a member of the band in 1986 and remaining with it through the 1990s. During the 1980s he also recorded with Paul McCandless, Art Lande, Anthony Davis, and Bobby McFerrin. In 1993 he created the Caribbean Jazz Project.[2]

Samuels wrote columns for the magazines Modern Percussionist and Modern Drummer, a method book, and made an instructional video. He taught at Berklee and at the New England Conservatory of Music.[2][4]

Samuels died on April 22, 2019, due to an undisclosed long-term illness.[1][5][6]


  • 1980 One Step Ahead (Dire Silverline)
  • 1988 Living Colors (MCA)
  • 1989 Ten Degrees North (MCA)
  • 1989 Fountainhead with Andy LaVerne (SteepleChase)
  • 1991 Natural Selection (GRP)
  • 1992 Del Sol (GRP)
  • 1994 Synergy with Samuels (Tall Poppies)
  • 1998 Tjader-ized: A Cal Tjader Tribute (Verve/Polygram)
  • 2006 Mosaic (Concord)
  • 2007 Dualism[7]

With Spyro Gyra

With Caribbean Jazz Project

With Double Image

  • 1977 Double Image
  • 1979 Dawn
  • 1986 In Lands I Never Saw
  • 1994 Open Hand (live)
  • 1997 Duotones
  • 2006 Moment to Moment (Live in Concert)

As sideman[edit]

With Gerry Mulligan

With others


  1. ^ a b c West, Michael. "Dave Samuels 1948-2019". Jazz Times. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Kernfeld, Barry (2002). Kernfeld, Barry (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Vol. 3 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 495. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Dave Samuels Biography". Billboard. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  4. ^ "Dave Samuels". New England Conservatory of Music. April 28, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  5. ^ "Remembering Dave Samuels". DownBeat. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "Spyro Gyra". Facebook. April 22, 2019. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  7. ^ "Dave Samuels | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved May 28, 2017.

External links[edit]