Photo Credit: ©John Rogers
The Jazz Thieves, through personal and evocative lyrics, passionate and soulful improvisation, and thoughtful, wide-ranging originals revitalize jazz by reconnecting it to its roots. Inspired by their heroes Duke Ellington, Tom Waits, Bill Withers and Ray Charles, they "steal" the feel, fire and fervor of 70's soul, 50's R&B, church gospel, and modern hip-hop, uniting it with jazz improvisation and imagination. Their music is a modern exploration of the many stories, voices and styles that comprise and influence jazz.
The Jazz Thieves sound has been forged in the and grit and hustle of New York City's jazz and independent music scene; they have absorbed their aesthetic and spirit from venues which feature modern pop, eclectic rock and straight ahead jazz. They have played their own original songs and jazz/blues standards at rock n’roll haunts like Rockwood Music Hall, and more quiet, intimate jazz venues like Cafe Vivaldi. They can regularly be seen in the lineup on the eclectic Saturday night showcases at The Way Station in Brooklyn. They are led by the upright bassist/composer/lyricist John Gray, and feature Matt Robbins on vocals and keyboard, Ayumi Ishito on saxophone, and Tim Ford on drums.
In 2016, they released their first full length album, "Brooklyn Elegy". Recorded and mixed at Room 17 Studios in Bushwick by engineers Joe Rogers and the Grammy Award-winner Ted Young, Brooklyn Elegy was met with critical acclaim from AllAboutJazz.com and Jazziz magazine, in addition to radio interviews and international radio airplay.
“Brooklyn Elegy” evokes a coming of age; wading through the changing neighborhoods in a gentrifying Brooklyn, navigating infrequent employment, meeting colorful characters, and surviving ups and downs. The songs are inspired by Gray's experiences as an emerging artist in New York; cataloging love, heartbreak, and growth.
Outside of playing together, the individual members of the Jazz Thieves have played and collaborated with jazz masters such as James Moody, John McNeil, Vincent Herring, David Williams, Bobby Shew, Mike LeDonne and John Stetch to name a few. They are all active performers in the NYC Jazz and Rock/Pop/Folk scenes, and can be seen playing together or separately any night of the week.
Members of the band are also passionate music educators. They are available to teach masterclasses, private lessons, and educational outreach programs.