Steve Kirby (musician)

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Steve Kirby (born May 23, 1956) is an American jazz bassist, composer and educator.

Kirby was born in Maumee Valley, Ohio, and his family moved to St. Louis when he was two. He picked up the guitar and electric bass while stationed at Fort Bragg, and following this he attended Webster University, receiving his BA in 1985. He worked locally in various ensembles and then got his master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music, where he played with Lester Bowie. In 1988 he returned to Webster, where he taught until 1993, and while there he won the 1992 Hennessy Jazz Search.

Known for his work with Elvin Jones and Cyrus Chestnut, Kirby has played with: Oliver Lake, Claudio Roditi, John Hicks, Slide Hampton, Antonio Hart, Joanne Brackeen, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Wallace Roney, Kenny Barron, Wycliffe Gordon, Steve Turre, James Carter, Wes Anderson, Wynton Marsalis, Kathleen Battle, Abbey Lincoln, Regina Carter, James Carter, Warren Wolf, Stefon Harris, Terreon Gully, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Barron, Geoff Keezer, Miguel Zenon, Joanne Brackeen, Steve Turre, Jacky Terrasson, Joe Lovano, Eddie Henderson, Benny Green, Slide Hampton, Lester Bowie and Winard Harper.

In January 2017, Steve released his first full length orchestral recording featuring all of his own compositions, entitled All Over The Map. Fredric Cardin of ICI Musique noted of the release, "Steve Kirby, like an alchemist, brews all these ingredients together and concocts listening universes that are both intellectually stimulating and musically pleasing, for both specialized and secular ears”.[1]

Steve has also appeared on many recordings as a side man and two others as a leader: Wicked Grin (2008) and Stepchild (2013), featuring the University of Manitoba Jazz Faculty Ensemble. He spent 15 years heading the University of Manitoba Jazz Studies program.

Steve Kirby joined the faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba in 2003, where he then created the Bachelor of Jazz Studies program, which was officially launched in 2007. He was promoted to full professor and received tenure. During his 14 year career at the University of Manitoba, Professor Kirby created countless outreach programs and opportunities for students to learn and perform.

In January 2004, Professor Kirby joined forces with the campus corporation Smartpark, to become Artistic Director for the Smart Park Jazz Innovators Series. As Artistic Director and bass player, Steve facilitated and performed with some of the best artists in Jazz: trombonist, Wycliffe Gordon, violinist, Regina Carter, trumpeter Nicholas Payton and vocalist Luciana Souza. All artists stayed for 1 week residencies that included master-classes, rehearsals for students and a concert at the end of the week.

In March of 2004, Steve spearheaded the creation of what has become a weekly jazz institution in Winnipeg – the “COOL Monday Night Hang.” Taking its cue from the many jam sessions Steve participated in as a professional musician in New York, “The Hang” is a place where students, faculty, seasoned professionals, and visiting artists can hone their skills and exchange ideas in a live performance setting.

SK was the creator and Editor and Chief for Winnipeg’s only Jazz periodical, dig! Magazine. Launched by SK in 2004, dig! It was designed to mirror the growth and gauge the health of Winnipeg’s Jazz scene. The magazine also served to co-ordinate and promote the Jazz events that the many local and visiting presenters offer in Winnipeg and throughout the province. The last issue of dig! Magazine was published in the summer of 2017.

In 2005 SK created Jazz On Wheels, his version of New York’s famous Jazz Mobile. Designed as a mobile concert stage, Jazz on Wheels literally drove music to people in their own neighborhoods. Featuring local and touring jazz musicians, the project provided Winnipeggers of all social and economic backgrounds with opportunities to learn about jazz through concerts and workshops brought directly to their communities. Jazz on Wheels features interactive presentations illustrating the evolution of jazz and its influence on modern popular music.

2005 - 2016, SK held the position of artistic director for the Izzy Asper Jazz Performance Series. In this series Steve not only performed with many of the visiting artists but also has created a unique opportunity for the U of M Jazz students to perform as the opening band for the all-star visiting artists. Each artist also presented master classes to the jazz students.

He retired effective June 27, 2017, after his scheduled sabbatical, during which an internal investigation into sexual harassment of multiple students was conducted by the University.[2] While details of the initial investigation have not been made public, it was reported that six former students approached school administration in February, 2017, with complaints of sexual harassment by Kirby.[3]

Shortly after retiring from the University of Manitoba, Kirby won a position at Berklee College of Music, but was suspended from his position pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment stemming from his time at the University of Manitoba. Kirby's position at Berklee was terminated a short time after these allegations came to light.[4][5][6] On May 9, 2018, after an investigation by Winnipeg Police, Kirby was charged with sexual assault of a music program student at the University of Manitoba, relating to multiple incidents between 2014 and 2017.[7][2]

On March 7, 2019, Crown Prosecutor Mark Kantor announced that the case against Kirby would not proceed, and that the Crown was directing a stay of proceedings in this matter. [8] A stay of proceedings in a criminal case means a charge is not proceeding through court at this time, but does not mean the charge has been formally withdrawn.


As Steve Kirby

  • All Over The Map (Head In The Sand, 2017)

As Larry Roy/Steve Kirby

  • Wicked Grin (DIG!RECORDS, 2008)[9]

As Steve Kirby and the Northern Prairie Jazz Collective

  • Stepchild (University Of Manitoba, Desautels Faculty Of Music, 2012)[10]

With Curtis Nowosad

  • Dialectics (CellarLive Records, 2015)
  • The Skeptic and The Cynic (CellarLive Records, 2012)

With James Carter

With Cyrus Chestnut

  • Dark Before the Dawn (Atlantic, 1994)[12]
  • Earth Stories (Atlantic, 1995)[13]

With George A. Johnson Jr

  • Turquoise Ocean (Challenge, 1997)[14]

With Anna-Lisa Kirby


  1. ^ "Steve Kirby's Oceanic Jazz Orchestra: le centre du monde est à Winnipeg". ICI Musique (in French). Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  2. ^ a b Jessica Botelho-Urbanski and Katie May (10 September 2018). "Former U of M music prof arrested, charged with sexual assault". Retrieved 14 November 2018 – via
  3. ^ "Prof who left U of M amid sexual harassment allegations received 'infuriating' payout - CBC News". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  4. ^ "U of Manitoba was warned about former jazz prof's behaviour years before he left". CBC News. September 16, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  5. ^ "Berklee College puts Steve Kirby on leave after allegations of sexual harassment at U of Manitoba". CBC News. September 14, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jazz prof's job in U.S. on hold over harassment claims". Winnipeg Free Press. September 14, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "Steve Kirby charged with sexual assault dating back to 2014 - CBC News". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Wicked Grin by Larry Roy/Steve Kirby, retrieved 2019-12-12
  10. ^ "Steve Kirby, The Northern Prairie Jazz Collective - Stepchild". Discogs (in French). Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  11. ^ Cook & Morton 2008, p. 232.
  12. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (1996). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (3rd ed.). Penguin. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-14-051368-4.
  13. ^ Cook & Morton 2008, p. 246.
  14. ^ Cook & Morton 2008, p. 785.
  • Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler, The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford, 1999, p. 367.