Brian Torff

Brian Torff

Brian Q. Torff is a renowned bassist, composer, author and educator.  Currently he is Professor of Music and Music Program Director at Fairfield University. He is also a featured bass soloist who performs in jazz festivals throughout the United States, and musical director of the Django Reinhardt New York Festival.  In 1994 he founded the Fairfield University Summer Jazz Workshop. In 1992 he served as co-chairperson of the Music Advisory Board for the National Endowment for the Arts.  In 2008 Mr. Torff was honored as Artist of the Year by the Fairfield Arts Council.

Brian Torff’s professional career began in 1974 when bassist Milt Hinton offered him the opportunity to tour with Cleo Laine.  During the late 70’s, Brian recorded and performed with pianists Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland, and toured with the gypsy jazz violin virtuoso 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 Torff joined pianist George Shearing. In the course of their three and a half year collaboration, they toured extensively and were featured on The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, and hosted their own PBS special from the Café Carlyle in New York City. They received worldwide acclaim and performed for President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan. Their third album won a Grammy for vocalist Mel Tormé.

Brian Torff’s compositions appear in the recordings of George Shearing, Larry Coryell, Union Trio, as well as his own records: Life in East Bumblepuck, Hitchhiker of Karoo, Manhattan Hoe-Down, and Workin’ On a Bassline.   His scores have been performed by the Boston Pops, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Pittsburgh Symphony.   He has conducted, composed for and served as a clinician at numerous high school and college jazz festivals, and directed the Summer Jazz Workshop at Fairfield University. Brian is listed in the Groves Dictionary of Jazz and has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times.

In early 2008 Brian lived in Paris where he wrote his book, In Love with Voices: A Jazz Memoir.   Currently he features his songs with his funk rock horn band Phantom Pluckers, and his jazz band New Duke, weaves contemporary concepts in to Duke Ellington’s music. Finally Brian enjoys his tenure as the Jazz Series director at the Westport Arts Center in Westport, CT.   You can hear some of Brian’s work on his websites:  and