Brian Torff is a renowned jazz double-bassist and composer. He is currently music program director at Fairfield University in Connecticut. The Fairfield Arts Council named him its 2008 Artist of the Year.
Brian is a featured bass soloist leading his own trio, and is the musical director for the Django Reinhardt New York Festival, which has appeared at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and Birdland in New York City. He has performed at Carnegie Hall for Fiddle Fest where he appeared with Mark O’Connor, Dave Grusin, Regina Carter, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman. He performs in jazz festivals around the U.S., has founded the Fairfield University Summer Jazz Workshop and has served as co-chair person for the music advisory board for the National Endowment for the Arts.
Brian’s professional career began in 1974 when bassist Milt Hinton offered him the opportunity of touring with Cleo Laine. During the late 70’s, he recorded and performed with pianists Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland, and toured Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong with the jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli. He played in pianist Erroll Garner’s last group and worked in the big bands of Oliver Nelson, and The Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra.
In 1979, Brian joined in a duo with pianist George Shearing. In the course of their 3 1/2 year collaboration, they toured throughout the U.S., Europe, Brazil, and South Africa and were featured on The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and their own PBS special from the Cafe Carlyle in New York City. They received worldwide acclaim, and were invited to perform at the White House in 1982 for President Ronald Reagan. Their third album won a Grammy for vocalist Mel Tormé.
Brian has composed works for records with George Shearing and Larry Coryell, and his own recordings “Life in East Bumblepuck,” “Hitchhiker of Karoo,” “Manhattan Hoe-Down,” and “Workin’ On a Bassline.” He has composed scores that have been performed by the Boston Pops, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh Symphony, and has appeared as conductor, composer, and clinician for numerous high school and college jazz festivals.
Brian’s book In Love With Voices: A Jazz Memoir chronicles his early musical roots and provides portraits of musicians he has worked with, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Mary Lou Williams, Marian McPartland, Stephane Grappelli, and George Shearing.
Brian is a professor of music and the director of the music program at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. He makes frequent appearances at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts leading the Fairfield University Jazz Ensemble along with guest jazz artists including Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Bernard Purdie, Milt Hinton, Dave Samuels and Paul Wertico.
Phantom Pluckers is a dynamic horn driven funk-rock band that combines fresh, original songwriting with unusually high musicianship. The classic horn band sound of the early 70’s is updated with lyrics that address contemporary life. Bassist and composer Brian Torff leads Phantom Pluckers using his extensive jazz background to craft tight arrangements for vocals, trumpets, saxophones, guitar, bass and drums. Torff is a music professor and Fairfield University who works with former students that include Jamie Debicella, guitar, Steven Salcedo, saxophone, Jon Rivers, drums and a New York City horn section. Phantom Pluckers combines the drive of funk and rock with the colors of jazz in a musical exchange that spans generations. Their sound is unique and powerful.