Biography of Bob Curnow


Bob Curnow (born in Easton, PA) was a trombonist with The Stan Kenton Orchestra, touring all of the United States, Great Britain, Scotland and Wales (1963). He was a member of the last "Mellophonium Band". In 1973, he began a four-year stint as the A & R Director, arranger, composer, record producer and general manager for Kenton's Creative World Records. He produced over 30 LPs for Kenton, and his arrangements and compositions can be heard on six Stan Kenton albums. His company (Sierra Music) is the exclusive publisher of the Stan Kenton Orchestra Library, along with the music of many other great jazz artists/composers.

Curnow had the great honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Association of Jazz Education in January, 1999. Also in that Hall of Fame are Louis Armstrong, Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Billy Taylor, and Benny Carter among others.

Curnow is a past-president of the International Association of Jazz Education. He served IAJE as an executive board member for fourteen years as treasurer, vice-president, president-elect, president and past-president. It was during his presidency that the National Associations of Jazz "Educators" became the international association that it is today. Membership grew dramatically in every area, the annual convention expanded along with the Leadership Conference, which was very helpful in establishing a new officer's manual, a new music review format, a new adjudication form and a restructuring of divisions/regions worldwide.

Bob is a graduate (1963) of West Chester State University (PA) and completed two Master's degrees and all his doctoral studies at Michigan State University (1967). He has served as an adjudicator and/or clinician at jazz festivals in over 40 states and Canada in the past 30 years.

From 1967 to 1973 Curnow was the Director of Instrumental Music at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

In 1973, he began a four-year stint as the A & R Director, arranger, composer, record producer and general manager for Kenton's Creative World Records. He produced over 30 LPs for Kenton, and his arrangements and compositions can be heard on six Stan Kenton albums.

From 1976 to 1987 Curnow was the Director of Bands and Jazz Studies at California State University in Los Angeles, where he conducted the No. 1 Jazz Ensemble, the Brass Ensemble, Symphonic Band and the Wind Ensemble. Prior to that time, he taught at Michigan State University (1964-67) and Case Western Reserve University (1967-73). He spent 22 years teaching at the university level and left full-time teaching with the rank of Full Professor.

He has been a guest conductor of symphony orchestras (Boston Pops, Cleveland Philharmonic, Florida Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, etc.) and All-State Jazz Ensembles (New York, Georgia, Washington, Wisconsin, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, etc.) throughout the United States. He also conducted the MENC All-Northwest Jazz Ensemble two times.  Bob's most recent All-State outing took him to Erie, PA (his home state) to conduct the Pennsylvania All-State Jazz Ensemble (for whom he wrote "Keystone Shuffle" as a commission).

For eight years (1981-89), Curnow served as the director of the McDonald's All-American High School Jazz Band, helping to discover such talents as Christopher Hollyday, Geoff Keezer, Don Braden, Herb Harrison (w/Marcus Roberts), Wycliffe Gordon (w/Wynton Marsalis), Greg Gisbert and Tony Kadlick (w/Woody Herman), John Bailey, Javon Jackson, John Medeski, Kenny Rampton, Delfaeyo Marsalis and many other now-prominent "heavy-weights."

His more recent activities include conducting and arranging the widely-acclaimed (see reviews) big-band recording of Pat Metheny music. The CD is Bob Curnow's L.A. Big Band, The Music of Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays. The CD has gotten consistent rave reviews from all over the world. The album was recorded and produced in Los Angeles with an all-star band including jazz greats Bobby Shew, Steve Houghton, Don Rader, Rick Culver, Buddy Childers, Bill Cunliffe and many others. The CD was released on the MAMA Records label and it is the best selling CD in their history.

Curnow conducted his music in an "Arrangers' Holiday" concert in Las Vegas, NV, along with Sammy Nestico and Bob Florence. He also conducted in Los Angeles in June, 1997 at the 4-day "Kenton Era" celebration of Stan Kenton and his music. Other conductors so honored were Bill Holman, Don Piestrup, Pete Rugolo, Bill Russo and Lennie Niehaus. He then appeared in Los Angeles in August, 1998, where he conducted a sensational Kenton alumni band in a concert commemorating the last performance of the Kenton band. On that concert ("Kenton Sounds") Bob also premiered his newest work titled "Towednack (home parish)." It received a standing ovation from the sold-out house at the Occidental College Auditorium. The band included, among many others, Peter Erskine, Kim Richmond, Bill Perkins, Jack Montrose, Greg Smith, Tom Porrello, Buddy Childers, Carl Saunders, Clay Jenkins, Ray Reed, Jim Amlotte and Kenny Shroyer. He also conducted the American Jazz Institute Orchestra in Los Angeles in August, 1999. In that concert he conducted Kenton music and premiered a new arrangement of a Pat Metheny piece titles "Too Soon Tomorrow". The piece featured Carl Saunders and Bill Perkins.

Another wonderful project was the CD recording Bob Curnow & the SWR Big Band, (Towednack- Celtic Big Band), released in July, 2002. It was recorded in Stuttgart, Germany with the finest European jazz musicians available. Curnow wrote 10 new compositions/arrangements for the CD. It is available from Sierra Music Publications as CD 1035.

In August of 2006, Bob conducted a Stan Kenton Tribute Band at the Hollywood Bowl.  Bob co-led the band with Peter Erskine. Some of the personnel included Wayne Bergeron, Carl Saunders, Clay Jenkins, Andy Martin, Bob Sheppard, Kim Richmond, Dave Carpenter and many other of L.A.'s best.  The band performed, among other things, Bob's arrangement (a medley of Kenton hits) called "Kenton Kollage." It is recorded on the SWR Big Band CD. Other groups on the program were the Gerald Wilson Band and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Band, conducted by Slide Hampton.  

Bob is the owner/president of Sierra Music Publications, located in Liberty Lake, WA, publisher of the Stan Kenton Orchestra Library, the Doc Severinsen Library, the Benny Carter Series,  the Oliver Nelson Library, the music of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, the Maynard Ferguson "Birdland Dream Band" Library, the amazing music of Bill Holman, Shorty Rogers, David Baker, Les Hooper, Bill Potts, Lennie Niehaus and many other great jazz composers.

Bob lives in Liberty Lake, WA with his wife of forty four years, Darlene. Liberty Lake is also the home of Sierra Music Publications.