Bob DeVos

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Bob DeVos | BIO

Early History

Bob DeVos was born Robert Wayne DeVos in Paterson, New Jersey. No one in the family played a musical instrument, but Bob absorbed standards and the best of Big Band and rhythm and blues from listening to his parents' and older brother's record collections: Basie, Ellington, Sinatra, Nat King Cole, James Brown, King Curtis, B.B. King, Chuck Berry. Bob picked up the guitar at age twelve, within weeks was memorizing guitar solos off of these records, and was performing professionally at thirteen. As an older teenager, he was the guitarist for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons but more telling for his future, he was exploring the soul jazz clubs of Newark, New Jersey and hearing the Hammond B-3 Organ greats, including his future collaborators for Blues Leaf, Gene Ludwig and Billy James. Rock could not meet the needs of his musical creativity and intellect; "I needed more chord changes…" In his early twenties, he chose jazz over rock.

Musical Influences

Through his teens, Bob performed with groups influenced by B.B. King, Otis Redding, James Brown and other rhythm and blues artists. He was soon inspired by Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Pat Martino. He subsequently recorded with Martino. He studied with Harry Leahy (guitar), Edgar Grana (composition), and Dennis Sandole (guitar and composition). An extraordinarily mature and versatile musician, Bob is a modern player with strong traditional roots. He is equally at home with straight-ahead jazz, rhythm and blues, jazz fusion and more.

Formative Experience

Bob's initial jazz experience began while he was a student of Harry Leahy and the legendary Dennis Sandole. In 1970, when Sandole sent his leading students out to audition for the brilliant and underated organist Trudy Pitts, Bob was the one chosen. His early jazz experience was with groups featuring the Hammond B-3 organ, beginning with Trudy Pitt's trio. Bob went on to play with groups led by Richard "Groove" Holmes, featuring saxophonist Sonny Stitt, and by Jimmy McGriff and Hank Crawford. Bob later toured and recorded extensively with organist Charles "The Mighty Burner" Earland's group that included Eric Alexander and Jim Rotondi. Performances As a member of the Jimmy McGriff-Hank Crawford Quartet, Mr. DeVos appeared in the PBS-TV video Live From Elario's, aired nationwide on PBS's Club Date series. He toured as a member of saxophonist Gerry Neiwood's group Timepiece, including Dave Samuels. As a member of composer Teo Macero's Nonet, Bob recorded and performed with Pepper Adams, Dave Leibman, and Dick Oatts. He has also performed and/or recorded with Eric Alexander, Hugh Brodie, Junior Cook, Joey DeFrancesco, Bill Doggett, Larry Goldings, "Screaming" Jay Hawkins, Etta Jones, Mike LeDonne, Gene Ludwig, Jack MacDuff, Ron McClure, David "Fathead" Newman, Adam Nussbaum, Houston Person, Irene Reid, Rufus Reid, Mike Richmond, Bob Sheppard, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Stanley Turrentine and Buddy Williams among many others.


Mr. DeVos' writing has been cited by the New Jersey Council on the Arts where he is a past grant recipient for composition. Critics universally cite and acclaim his composing for both his first CD as a leader and the CDs of others: "Breaking the Ice," "Rue de La Burner", and "Tri-Hog-Myth" on Breaking the Ice (Savant); "Maine-Stay", "Shorter Story", "West Side Blues", and "In Search of Times Lost" on Matchpoint (Steeplechase, with the Ron McClure Quartet); "Pause for Fred's Claw"s on Groove ORGANization, with the Gene Ludwig Trio (Blues Leaf); and "Memorial Day" on Keepers of the Flame: Charles Earland, (HighNote, with the Charles Earland Tribute Band anchored by Joey DeFrancesco). "Shorter Story" and "Shifting Sand" have been recorded by West Coast tenor great Bob Sheppard on his In The Now and Tell Tale Signs (BMG Records).

Current Work

Bob leads his own quartet and plays and records frequently with Groove ORGANIZation. (Gene Ludwig, Bob DeVos, and Billy James). He is a member of forward looking Ron McClure Quartet and of Tribute~The Charles Earland Tribute Band with organist Joey DeFrancesco and featuring Eric Alexander and Jim Rotondi. In recent years, Bob has performed at the Kennedy Center, The Blue Note, Birdland, Iridium, SMOKE, Sweet Basil, Zanzibar Blue, The Van Dyke Café, and numerous festivals in the US and worldwide, including the JVC Jazz Festivals in New York City and Miami Beach, and The San Franciso Jazz Festival. An in-demand freelance player, he is heard frequently on jazz stations nationwide.

Mr. DeVos is on the music faculty at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and teaches privately. He can often be heard there and elsewhere as part of Bill Warfield's New York Repertory Orchestra. An innovative and sensitive teacher, he has done extensive work in jazz clinics and has also taught at William Paterson University.

Selected Discography

As a Leader: The late 1999 release of Breaking The Ice on Savant Records marked Bob DeVos' stunning four and half star CD debut as a leader. It features Charles Earland on Hammond B-3, legendary percussionist Master Henry Gibson, and drummer Vince Ector.

Bob's next CD, Devos Groove Guitar, Spring, 2003 on Blues Leaf Records, reunited Bob with Hammond B-3 master Gene Ludwig and legendary drummer Billy James, and includes Emedin Rivera on percussion.

As a Sideman

w/Richard "Groove" Holmes - Groove's Groove (32 Jazz) 1977 Good Vibrations (Muse Records) 1977 w/Hugh Brodie - And The Real Thing (Kheba Records) 1979
w/Teo Macero - Impressions of Charles Mingus (Palo Alto Jazz) 1983
w/Charles Earland - Organomically Correct (32 Jazz) 1996 Blowing The Blues Away (HighNote Records) 1997 Jazz Organ Summit (Cannonball Records) 1998 Live (Cannonball Records) 1998 w/Irene Reid - Million Dollar Secret (HighNote) 1997 I Ain't Doin' Too Bad (HighNote) 1998
w/Dave Braham - Blue Gardenia (Blue Jay Records) 2000 w/Ron McClure - Matchpoint (Steeplechase Records) 2002 w/Gene Ludwig - Groove Organization (Blues Leaf Records) 2002 w/Charles Earland Tribute Band - Keepers of the Flame: Charles Earland (HighNote Records) 2002, featuring Joey DeFrancesco and Eric Alexander, with guest Pat Martino


Bob recently recorded a second CD for Steeplechase with the Ron McClure Quartet and will record another as part of Groove ORGANization for Blues Leaf in 2003.

Major Articles

All About Jazz Magazine, Paula Edelstein, November, 1999 - article and interview. Just Jazz Guitar, Adrian Ingram, February 2000

Recorded Video Performances

Live From Elario's, part of PBS's nationwide Club Date series, as a member of the Jimmy McGriff-Hank Crawford Quartet.

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