Darrell Grant

Speaking & Teaching

In addition to performing and composing, Darrell is active as an educator, speaker, and advocate for the arts.


Whether crafting policy in his role as Vice President of Chamber Music America, convening a lecture series on sustainability and music, or curating music for a local venue, Grant is continually seeking new ways to harness the power of art to effect positive change.


  • "Did We Not Have Beauty?" at Portland Art Museum (2017, first video below)
  • “Getting to Know You: Understanding and Building Audiences” CMA CONFERENCE 2016
  • “Jazz Grantmaking”   Jazz Connect Conference at APAP|NYC 2014
  • “The Jazz Scene as an Ecology”  Walters Cultural Center Lecture Series
  • The Shedd Jazz Workshop (2012, below)


As a creative artist with a deep commitment to teaching, Darrell Grant draws on insights and experience gained in three decades of artistic practice to encourage students young and old down their own artistic pathways.

A classically-trained pianist (B.M. Applied Piano, Eastman School of Music), with a Masters in Jazz Studies (M.M. Jazz Performance, University of Miami), he is a tenured Professor and Associate Director of the School of Music at Portland State University where he has been on faculty since 1996. 

Grant builds on the values and culture expressed in the jazz tradition—the power of improvisation, democratic self-expression, communication, as weil as the mastery of harmony and vernacular rhythms as a means to delve into broader questions. What is the cultural role the artist in the 21st century?  How can art make an impact on communities? How can artists offer leadership outside their fields? He is deeply engaged in the process of creating work across disciplines, issues of sustainability and the arts, and the exploration of the artist’s role in community.

One of the primary vehicles is ARTISTRY IN ACTION. ARTISTRY IN ACTION is a class, a blog, and a rebuttal to the silo-ed, discipline-segregated approach that still predominates in arts education. Grant created the course in 2012 to provide an opportunity for students from diverse artistic disciplines to figure out how to sustain their artistic practices post-university.


Recent Articles:

Feature Article: Chamber Music Magazine

Interview: Independent Ear Blog post


As the founding director of the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute (LJVI), Darrell Grant was deeply engaged in its work to preserve and promote the art form, cultural heritage, and social history of jazz music in the Pacific Northwest through education, outreach, and historical documentation.

LVJI’s programs work to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of jazz through partnerships with community and educational organizations, document the historic jazz culture of the Northwest region, and honor those who contribute to its jazz tradition. Additionally, the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute seeks to use jazz as a positive force for community building and re-building through musical outreach and education programs which cultivate appreciation for diverse cultures through lifelong study, appreciation, and participation in jazz.

Leroy vinnegar jazz institute projects include:

  • “The New Griot Project,” a youth outreach initiative drawing musical and cultural connections between jazz and hip-hop;
  • “A Great Day in Portland” a historic photograph documenting Portland’s jazz legacy;
  • The “Northwest Jazz Oral Histories Project” which documented the voices of 11 notable Oregon jazz artists with interviews and public programming.

LVJI has also been a longtime partner with the Portland Jazz Festival, developing education and outreach programming including “The Incredible Journey of Jazz,” which has been seen by over 12,000 students in Oregon and Washington, and the “PDX Jazz All-Stars” high school big band, which performed with jazz artists Charles McPherson, Gerald Wilson, and Bob Mintzer.

In 2009 Grant was asked to organize a collaborative cultural exchange project to Khabarovsk, Russia. The Jazz Bridge Project brought a delegation of Portland jazz educators and students to Khabarovsk to present public concerts, give educational presentations and workshops, and take part in cultural activities.

Darrell Grant currently serves as  Vice-President of Chamber Music America and is collaborating with The August Wilson Red Door Project to create multi-disciplinary performances of the racial justice theater piece Hands Up: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments. He is in demand as a lecturer and panelist on topics ranging from the history of jazz piano to the importance of collaboration.