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Steve Cardenas (musician)

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Steve Cardenas
BornKansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Years active1978–present
LabelsFresh Sound, Sunnyside

Steve Cardenas is a guitarist who began his career in Kansas City, Missouri and has been part of the New York City jazz community since 1995.[1]



Cardenas was a member of the Paul Motian Electric Bebop Band, Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, Steve Swallow Quintet, and Joey Baron's band, Killer Joey. He is currently a member of the Ben Allison Band, John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet, Jon Cowherd Mercy Project and Adam Nussbaum Lead Belly Project. Cardenas has also worked with Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Paul McCandless, Madeleine Peyroux, Norah Jones,[2] Eliane Elias and Marc Johnson. He has toured throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia, performing at international music festivals, theaters, and clubs. Cardenas has released seven recordings as a leader.[2][3]

Cardenas is on faculty at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City.[3] He has been on the faculty at the California Institute of the Arts,[2] Segunda Residencia Antonio Sánchez, Siena Summer Jazz Workshop, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, and Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony. Cardenas is co-author, with editor Don Sickler, of the Thelonious Monk Fakebook, released by Hal Leonard Publishing.



As leader

  • Shebang (Fresh Sound, 2000)
  • Panoramic (Fresh Sound, 2004)
  • West of Middle (Sunnyside, 2010)
  • Melody in a Dream (Sunnyside, 2013)
  • Charlie & Paul (Newvelle, 2018)
  • Blue Has a Range (Sunnyside, 2020)
  • Healing Power (The Music of Carla Bley) (Sunnyside, 2022)

As sideman


With Ben Allison

  • Cowboy Justice (Palmetto, 2006)
  • Little Things Run the World (Palmetto, 2007)
  • Think Free (Palmetto, 2009)
  • Action-Refraction (Palmetto, 2011)
  • The Stars Look Very Different Today (Sonic Camera, 2013)
  • Layers of the City (Sonic Camera, 2017)
  • Quiet Revolution (Newvelle, 2016 / Sonic Camera, 2018)
  • Moments Inside (Sonic Camera, 2021)

With Jeff Beal

  • Objects in the Mirror (Triloka, 1990)
  • Three Graces (Triloka, 1993)
  • Contemplations (Triloka, 1994)

With Paul Motian

  • Monk & Powell (Winter & Winter, 1999)
  • Europe (Winter & Winter, 2001)
  • Holiday for Strings (Winter & Winter, 2002)
  • Garden of Eden (ECM, 2006)

With others


  1. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2001). All Music Guide. Hal Leonard. p. 1313. ISBN 978-0-87930-627-4.
  2. ^ a b c Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  3. ^ a b Adler, David R. "Steve Cardenas". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 March 2017.