In a career that includes collaborations with some of the most talented players in modern jazz, Jeff Marrs has performed in many great jazz venues, including the Montreal Jazz Festival, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club in New York, the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, Yoshi’s Oakland and San Francisco, the SF Jazz Center and more. Born in Concord, California (home of Dave Brubeck and city that spawned Concord Jazz), Jeff grew up in a family where music and music appreciation were a high priority. As a toddler, he began with drumsticks and a practice pad, joining in his parents’ weekly band rehearsals. Through this experience, he was exposed to Country & Western and Rock & Roll music. His family also regularly attended a church where he heard classical and liturgical music played on pipe organ, piano and English handbells. By the age of ten he began as an occasional drummer in his parents’ band. In elementary school, Jeff learned to play the saxophone. Later he played drums, sax and bass guitar in several of his high school bands, including two jazz bands. Throughout these years he continued to study drums. Jeff received his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in jazz studies from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. His private lessons teachers there were Fred Budda of Boston Pops Orchestra and Gary Chaffee, writer of Odd Time Sticking, Rhythm and Meter Patterns and many other drumming tutorials. Jeff also studied with George Russell, Bob Brookmeyer, Benny Golson, Danilo Perez and John McNeil at NEC. Since returning to the San Francisco Bay Area, Jeff has played with countless jazz artists, at nearly every major festival, and has become one of the top call drummers in the greater Bay Area. The list of notable artists he’s performed/recorded with include: Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joshua Redman, Mads Tolling, Faye Carol, Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, Mel Martin Quartet, Wil Blades Trio, Mitch Marcus Quintet, Mike Zilber, Fil Lorenz Orchestra, Dayna Stephens, Barry Finnerty, Don Friedman, Ambrose Akinmuseri, Josh Nelson, Rodger Kellaway, Jackie Ryan, Steffon Harris, Ledisi, and many more. Jeff has also recorded for PBS and various commercial spots for television. He has performed on multiple occasions for the San Francisco Symphony. While attending the Jazz Educators Network Conference in 2012, Jeff played with The Benny Carter All-Star Band, led by Mel Martin, featuring Bobby Watson, Steve Kirby and Don Friedman. This band won the most outstanding performance award for the festival that year. In addition to performing, Jeff has provided individual and classroom instruction to students of all ages for more than ten years. He is a part-time professor at Los Medanos College (Pittsburg, CA), The Jazzschool Institute (Berkeley, CA) and is a faculty member at UC Berkeley. Whether working with beginning drummers or professional musicians seeking to improve jazz technique, Jeff takes pride in seeing students progress under his tutelage. Several of Jeff’s private students have gone on to become professional musicians, both performing in the San Francisco Bay Area and touring nationally.
- Emily Chelsea
- John Marchiando