Dave Samuels, with his distinct musical personality, has established himself as the top mallet player of his generation. He is recognized for his fresh new sound and creative approach to both the vibraphone and marimba. Dave has demonstrated his versatility and gained worldwide recognition by performing and recording with a broad scope of artists including Gerry Mulligan, Oscar Peterson, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Carla Bley, The Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny, Bruce Hornsby, Frank Zappa, The Fantasy Band, Spyro Gyra, Double Image and the Grammy award winning The Caribbean Jazz Project.
Throughout his career, Dave has been recognized by fans and critics alike for quality both in his performance and in his recordings. In 2003 he received a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Recording with his group The Caribbean Jazz Project for the CD “The Gathering.” Other awards include being voted Best Vibes Player in both Jazziz and Modern Drummer magazines. Other recognitions include being elected to the Board of Directors of the Percussive Arts Society and invited to serve on the Stamford Cultural Development Corporation.
Born in Chicago, Samuels began his musical travels at age six, playing drums and piano. While attending college, he combined his interests in both drums and keyboards and started focusing his energies on vibes and marimba. Dave first gained international exposure in 1974 as a member of the Gerry Mulligan Sextet. During the next few years he co-founded, recorded and toured with three different avant-garde groups: Double Image, Gallery, and the Skylight Trio. In 1976 Dave explored new musical horizons when he was invited to perform and record with Frank Zappa. The recording “Live in New York-1976” is considered a Zappa favorite.
Dave’s longtime association with Spyro Gyra spanned the years from 1977 to 1994 and includes 20 recordings. During that period the five-time Grammy nominated group was named top Contemporary Jazz Artist and Contemporary Jazz Group of the 80’s by Billboard magazine.
Dave’s four solo recordings showcase his writing, performing and producing talents: “Living Colors” (MCA), “Ten Degrees North” (MCA), “Natural Selection” (GRP) and “Del Sol” (GRP), feature a variety of musical settings that include the Yellowjackets, Bruce Hornsby, Danillo Perez, Andy Narell and Dave Valentin.
Recently his energies have focused on the highly original sound of The Caribbean Jazz Project, a sextet he founded in 1993. Five recordings have been made with this ground-breaking ensemble: “The Caribbean Jazz Project”, “Island Stories”, “New Horizons”, “Paraiso” and the Grammy-winning “The Gathering.” The Caribbean Jazz Project explores the rich musical traditions of the Caribbean, where music from Africa, Europe and the Caribbean Islands first merged and spread its roots in North and South America.
Dave teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston.