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Photo credit: Brian V. Jones


Mr. Grubbs has received numerous awards in recognition of his work. He has twice been the recipient of the MSAC Traditions award as a jazz master, working with apprentices to pass on the traditions of improvised jazz music. His organization, Contemporary Arts Inc. received a 2009 MSAC Traditions Project grant that culminated in his collaboration with Lafayette Gilchrist in a CD of the music of Marylanders who made significant contributions to the art form of jazz. In 2009, Mr. Grubbs received the Mary Sawyers Baker Award from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund. In 2014, he was awarded a Rubys Project Grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, founded by the Deutsch Foundation. His Rubys Project Grant enabled him to revise and expand his original work, The Inner Harbor Suite Revisited: A Tribute to Baltimore for Jazz/String Ensemble.


Grubbs has crafted a work of considerable color and depth in his Inner Harbor Suite; melodies, counter-melodies, blues elements of call and response, bebop rhythms, Afro-Cuban rhythms and avant-garde elements.

– Howard Mandel, DownBeat

The amazing jazz saxophonist Carl Grubbs debuted Inner Harbor Suite Revisited, a musical love letter to Baltimore. This re-imagined composition allowed Mr. Grubbs to experiment with a jazz/classical fusion and assemble an incredible group of musicians . . . the strings added a different feel and more colors to the music, notably on the tune “By and By,”which became a dramatic, bluesy, waltzing lullaby vividly bringing visions of the Inner Harbor to life. Grubbs’ fierce blowing on “Saturn,” one of his signature tunes, was a highlight, and “Barbara Dear” featured tenderly blown harmonies by Grubbs on a tune honoring his wife. 

– Steve Monroe, BJA News 

Grubbs, winner of a 2014 Rubys Award and 2009 Baker Award, was in top form. The tone of his alto saxophone was sharp and biting right from the start of the opening tune, Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night.” . . . Back on alto, Grubbs fired up a soaring rendition of "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” followed by a haunting version of "Soul Eyes.”

– Steve Monroe, BJA News

The quartet takes the tonal centers of Trane’s “Giant Steps” as their shared springboard. Grubbs solos first, crafting a highly personalized tribute to the composer through a verbose series of high register note streams . . . bouts of impressive circular breathing in solo and tandem, but the extended reed techniques never compromise the musicality of their endeavors. “July” features the full quartet galloping through another of Grubb’s melodically charged creations Miles Davis’s “Four” supplies further fodder for spirited blowing and the quartet attacks the bop standard with a voracious improvisatory elán.

– Derek Taylor, Cadence


A jazz saxophonist with a distinguished career as a  performer, composer, music educator and recording artist, CARL GRUBBS has toured with his ensemble in major cities world wide. Early in his career, he received extensive training from one of the music world’s greatest legends in jazz, JOHN COLTRANE . . . 

Carl Gordon Grubbs, alto, soprano and tenor saxophonist – composer, educator and recording artist is a native of Philadelphia.  He received early extensive training from John Coltrane, who was married to his cousin, Naima.  Through his family, he was close to many of the history-making musicians of the 1950s and 1960s.  With his brother, Earl, he formed The Visitors, a quintet that recorded four albums for the Muse record company in the early 1970’s. Mr. Grubbs is a former member of the Julius Hemphill Saxophone Sextet.  This group toured the U.S. and Europe performing two productions: Hemphill’s Long Tongues: A Saxophone Opera and Bill T. Jones/Arne Zane Production: Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin: The Promised Land.  He was a guest soloist at the Philadelphia performance of Reggie Workman’s current project, African Brass, a tribute to John Coltrane. In 2014, he was commissioned by the Philadelphia Jazz Project to complete a new arrangement of “In My Youth,” a previously recorded by the Visitors.  The new arrangement was performed at the Irvine Auditorium at the Annual Frosty Event. Mr. Grubbs performed as guest soloist.  As a guest artist at Philadelphia’s “Coltrane at 90 Celebration," he performed a medley of his favorite Coltrane tunes and his original music. 


Carl Grubbs is a recipient of the prestigious Mary Sawyer Baker Award and the Ruby’s Prize, programs of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. He is a two-time recipient of the Maryland Traditions Award as a Jazz Master working with apprentices David Lowe and Lafayette Gilchrist. The Carl Grubbs Quintet performs in major cities in the United States.  His ensemble has performed in Bogota and Medellin, Columbia, SA and did an eight-city tour of Brazil. Mr. Grubbs currently is the Jazz Band Director at St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, Maryland.  He has directed the Middle School Jazz Band Director at Friends School and served as Artist-in-Residence of the Instrumental Music Child First After School Program at Bernard Harris Elementary School in Baltimore City.  From 2010-2012 he conducted Workshops in Jazz Performance and Improvisation at Randallstown H.S. in Baltimore County, Maryland

NOTE: Carl Grubbs is a member of the Maryland State Arts Council Touring Artist Roster. Presenters can apply to the Maryland State Arts Council’s Touring Artist Fund for funding to present the CARL GRUBBS ENSEMBLE.


Contact: Gail Marten


Phone: 410-290-5638