Kevin Eubanks | World Famous Guitarist

Kevin Eubanks

World Famous Guitarist

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Kevin Eubanks

Guitarist Kevin Eubanks - who often good-naturedly serves as a comic foil for host Jay Leno -- was officially named music director of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in April 1995 after filling in since January 30, 1995 for the band's original director, saxophonist Branford Marsalis.

Eubanks, one of the most prolific jazz guitarists in the country, has been a key member of "The Tonight Show" band since the program premiered in May 1992, and he wrote the show's closing theme song, "Kevin's Country."

In addition to his television work, Kevin Eubanks has released Live At Bradley's, the 12th album in his 14-year recording career (not including a greatest hits collection), on which he collaborated with James Williams (piano) and "The Tonight Show's" Robert Hurst (bass) in a spontaneous, nowhere-to-hide trio format. The album was produced by Eubanks and Michael Cuscuan from a May 21, 1994 performance.

Eubanks also scored the HBO Pictures presentation, "Rebound," directed by "ER's" Eriq LaSalle and composed the score for the five-part PBS documentary series, "Black Westerners," which traces the story for African-American leaders, heroes and others who lived in the old West.

Kevin Eubanks grew up in Philadelphia, where he began studying the violin at the age of 7 and later became proficient on the piano and trumpet as well. He recalls falling in love with the guitar at a memorable James Brown concert he attended at age 12 and afterward, when he told his parents he would like to add guitar to his repertoire, they were less than excited and turned down his request for lessons. Undaunted, he acquired a guitar and began teaching himself.

Eubanks has toured extensively and recorded with many top jazz artists, including Branford Marsalis. With his own group, Kevin Eubanks recorded "Opening Nights," featuring Marsalis and Buster Williams, and "Face to Face," featuring Dave Grusin and Ron Carter. His 1988 album, "Shadow Prophets," received more radio airplay than any other jazz recording that year. His most recent album, "Spiri Talk 2, Revelations," a followup to last year's "Spirit Talk," is a collection of adventurous jazz pieces representing a significant surge of the music's evolution and the momentum of Eubank's career. Kevin Eubanks lists Wes Montgomery, John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix as his major musical influences. He attended Boston's Berklee College of Music.

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