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Trombonist/composer Marshall Gilkes may seem like a musical chameleon given the
range of music that he’s played over the course of his career. His sound can be heard in
the lush impressionism of the Maria Schneider Orchestra; the exotic chamber jazz of
Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda’s trio; and the fiery combustion of New York’s
thriving Latin music scene. But the versatile trombonist integrates those myriad
influences into a singular and distinctive voice, combining the spontaneous invention of
jazz with the elegant architecture of classical composition and virtuosic technique with
passionate emotion in a way that has made him an in-demand performer, composer,
sideman, and clinician.
Gilkes arrived in New York City in 1998, and after graduating from the Juilliard School
spent the next twelve years working steadily as a sideman while honing his own highly
individual voice. In the ensuing years he’s played and recorded with a staggering variety
of artists and ensembles, including the David Berger Jazz Orchestra, Ryan Truesdell’s Gil
Evans Project, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Darcy James
Argue’s Secret Society, the Christian McBride Big Band, Billy Cobham, Richard Bona,
and Barbra Streisand.
Gilkes’ voice can be best heard on his four albums as a leader. He released his debut,
Edenderry, in 2004, followed by the quintet recordings Lost Words in 2008 and Sound
Stories in 2012. His latest release, Köln, teams Gilkes with the German WDR Big Band,
with whom he was a member from 2010-2013. In 2003 he was a finalist in the prestigious
Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, and has been voted a Rising Star on
multiple occasions in DownBeat Magazine’s Critics Poll.
Complex and memorable compositions like those on Köln have begun to attract notice
from jazz festivals and educational institutions across the country and around the world,
leading to invitations for Gilkes as a composer, bandleader and clinician. He’s taught and
offered master classes at institutions including The Banff Center, Berklee College of
Music, the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the Brubeck Institute.
Gilkes is an artist for Edwards Instruments.