Darrell Grant

Original Composition

Darrell Grant’s compositions and arrangements tell numinous stories rooted in universal themes. A classically trained pianist, Grant first gained recognition for his innovative writing for jazz small groups.


Darrell Grant as a composer

The New York Times said about Grant’s early work, “he has figured out how to bring together all the various ploys that a modern rhythm section can use; and meld them so that a performance is rarely stationary.”

Four recordings from the 1990’s – Black Art, The New Bop, Twilight Stories, and Smokin’ Java – featuring Grant’s originals and innovative arrangements received critical recognition and lifted his albums to the top of jazz radio charts. On subsequent recordings like Spirit and Truth and Reconciliation, Darrell began to draw more overtly on his background in classical, gospel, soul, and folk music. Most recently, his work has delved into chamber music and diverse world traditions.

— Gramophone

Darrell Grant has written for ensembles ranging from string quartet to big band to choral ensembles. His commissions include the anthem for the 1998 Nike World Masters Games and a major Duke Ellington tribute for the Mount Hood Jazz Festival's celebration of the Ellington centennial, and his civil rights-themed Step by Step:The Ruby Bridges Suite, composed in honor of the centennial of Reed College. Grant was a 2012 recipient of the New Jazz Works Grant from Chamber Music America. His resultant composition The Territory was released in 2014 on PCJE Records. Recent projects include “DeNorval Unthank,”a piece for 14 musicians and narrator, commissioned by the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble for their 2016 “Oregon Stories” Project, and the score for the Oregon Experience documentary “JazzTown,” which explores the neighborhood, politics, and music behind Portland's brief, brilliant jazz age.  His music was also featured in the 2016 Artists Repertory Theatre presentation of A Civil War Christmas.

Current Projects

21 Cartas, for piano, guitar, and voice. With Edna Vazquez and imagery by Adolfo Cantú-Villereal. Funded by a RACC Project Grant. Premiering May 2019.

Sanctuaries, chamber opera on gentrification in Portland. Commissioned by Third Angle New Music. Premiering Spring 2020.

Selected Works

Christmastime is Here for Jazz Ensemble, commissioned by Portland Jazz Orchestra.
The Spirit of Ellington Suite for Jazz Ensemble, commissioned by Mount Hood Jazz Festival
Digging for Men's Chorus, commissioned by First Unitarian Church of Portland
How Beautiful are the Feet, commissioned by Choral Crossties
Spirit of the Waters for Jazz Ensemble, commissioned by Portland State University Jazz Ensemble
Ride the Wave for Mass Choir commissioned as Theme for Opening Ceremonies of 1998 NIKE World Master Games
Come Sunday arrangement for Chorus, commissioned by First Unitarian Church of Portland
Daydream arrangement for Chorus, commissioned by First Unitarian Church of Portland
Ain’t that a Rockin’ and Follow the Drinking Gourd, commissioned by Artists Repertory Theatre

When viewed upon as a whole, the leader’s compositions shine forth as interleaving works that intimate a cohesive and intimate storyline.
— Jazz Review