Jazz and Contemporary Music

Passionate about music? Serious about your future? Then consider our Jazz and Contemporary Music Program as your direct pathway to a successful career in the exciting world of professional music.

Degrees Offered: B.M. and A.S.
Offered on the Augusta Campus



Steve GroverDrummer/composer Steve Grover was born February 26, 1956 in Lewiston, Maine. At age nine, he began studying with the excellent local jazz drummer Dick Demers. After attending Berklee College Of Music and the University of Maine, Steve played with guitar legend Lenny Breau periodically from 1978-82, learning from a master musician. In 1979 Grover attended The Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York. At CMS, Steve was exposed to the concepts of forward-thinking artists from the world of jazz, new music, and world music.

In 1980 Grover formed a group with clarinetist Brad Terry called The Friends of Jazz, which performed in local Maine schools and communities. The group played host from time to time to visiting artists, working with Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Tate, Gray Sargent and others while occasionally reconstituting itself with excellent players.

Grover's entry into the world of jazz composition began in 1985, when he composed Blackbird Suite, a song cycle based on the Wallace Stevens poem Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird. Subsequently Steve received a grant from the Maine Festival in 1986 to compose Splitting the World In Half, collaborating with the poet Mark Melnicove. Several years passed before the 1991 premiere of Blackbird Suite as a multi-media presentation involving the theater artist Lee Faulkner, which incorporated music, choreography, masks, mime, video, film, and slide projections. The piece was commissioned by the Maine Community Foundation and was staged at the Celebration Barn Theater in South Paris, ME in June of 1991. Performances followed at the Maine Festival in August, and as part of a residency in the Farmington, ME schools in May 1992.

In 1994 Grover won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz/BMI Jazz Composers Competition for Blackbird Suite. After a performance at the Kennedy Center in November 1994, Grover recorded a CD of the music, which was released in 1997 to excellent reviews. Portions of Blackbird Suite also made Grover a winner in JAZZIZ magazine's Percussion On Fire talent search in 1996.

Steve's career as an educator began in 1980, as part of an NEA-sponsored Jazz Artist-In-Residence Program for three years at Mt. Ararat School in Topsham, ME. From 1984-97 Grover taught at The Maine Jazz Camp, with a two-year stint as director. Since the 1980s, Grover has taught at Bowdoin College, Bates College, and the University of Maine @ Augusta, where he received his music degree. He also served as Gifted/Talented instructor for several Maine schools from 1984-97. Grover was on the faculty of The International Summer Jazz School (based in Cracow, Poland) in 1994-95, and from 1998-2000 Steve taught at The Maine Percussion Camp. In the spring of 2011 Grover was a jazz piano instructor at the University Of Southern Maine.

As a jazz drummer, Grover has performed with many high profile jazz musicians, as well as with long-time colleagues. Steve has recorded eight CDs: In The G Zone, Blackbird Suite, Consideration, Remember, Breath, The Garden Above, Between Now And After, Flying (a jazz Beatles project). Reviews have appeared in Downbeat, JazzTimes, Cadence, and other publications. The title track from Breath won an honorable mention in The 2004 Billboard Song Contest, and was featured on NPR's All Songs Considered. Music from Breath and Remember was featured in Theatre And Inspiration, the award winning 2006 film about the life of Tony Montanaro. In early 2008, Steve's original song Art Advocate was awarded the theme for the MPBN show Conversations In Maine. In 2009, Steve's jazz group was awarded "Best Jazz Act 2009" and "One of the Ten Most Influential Bands of The Last Ten Years" by The Portland Phoenix.

Participation in the CD projects of musician colleagues include guitarist Tony Gaboury's CDs Empathy and Plays The Music Of Bill Evans, and guitarist Richard Nelson's CDs Figurations, Origin Story, and Pursuit.

More information can be found at Steve's website: www.stevegrover.com