, who grew up in Bourbonnais, began playing the drums when he
was old enough to hold the sticks and was enrolled in piano lessons in third grade. ,I started attempting the sounds of Lionel Hampton late in grade school when one of my older sisters purchased a set of vibes.At around 15, I began drumming with established local musicians, while experimenting on various instruments throughout high school., Hart
then studied music at Eastern Illinois University
and played drums, vibes, and piano in various groups. ,While playing drums in the jazz ensemble, we musicians had unique experiences playing with jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, and Rufus Reid,, he
During graduate school at the University of Northern Iowa
experimented with different sounds such as classic and fusion jazz, modern jazz, and Latin jazz.While completing doctoral studies at the University of Illinois, Hart organized his own vibraphone-based groups and began performing at numerous venues, festivals, and concerts throughout the state, while at the same time working with many notable regional musicians.
has a full plate. ,I,ve recorded CDs with my own groups and various other artists.As of now, I continue to perform with my own group,Kevin Hart
and the Vibe Tribe,as well as The Swing Daddies, Cassie and Friends, Dave Hoffman, Joe Metzka, and others.
...I also continue a long-standing weekly gig on Tuesday evenings with Mike Nellas at Panache in Peoria., Hart also teaches at Knox College, Parkland College, and Illinois Central College.
,s parents can be credited with instilling in him a love of jazz, he
said. ,I grew up listening to jazz music from day one.
...In addition to his performances on vibraphone and jazz piano, Hart also is a composer,though he wouldn,t call himself ,prolific., ,I usually write a few tunes a year, and only if some idea really grabs me and won,t let go.
Some tunes reveal themselves to me from beginning to end,for example, ,The Road to Everywhere,, the title track on my recent CD,and they go down on paper very easily.Other tunes reveal themselves as a main idea for me to complete, almost like a puzzle,for example, ,Two Winter Days, from the same CD.Sometimes, a clever song title will pop up in a conversation, particularly with my wife, Cassie, and I,ll write a tune based on that.Inspiration happens in a variety of ways, and I,ll take whatever I can get., As a composer, Hart especially appreciates the compositional abilities of fellow musicians. ,Local composers are like a little support group in that we all make a point to play each other,s music.
Jazz composers are rare around here, but a few of whom I really enjoy playing their compositions are local trumpeter Dave Hoffman, Springfield guitarist Sam Crain, and former central Illinois trumpeter John Scott, whose tunes I,ve included on my CDs,, he
likes to arrange as much as compose. ,I,ll hear a pop tune on the radio, and all of these ideas will run through my head as to how I could re-arrange this song in such a way that jazz musicians would enjoy playing it, as well as putting a twist on it that listeners might enjoy.Two examples of this would be ,Axel F, and ,Foolish Heart, from The Road To Everywhere CD., In addition to promoting his new CD through performances, Hart said he,s discovered that some jazz radio stations around the country have taken a liking to the CD. ,A few jazz stations closer to home, namely WGLT, WEFT, and WSIE, have been extremely supportive.
WGLT has always been especially helpful in playing many local musicians who,ve released CDs.A lot of time and thought was put into this CD, and it,s very encouraging to know some of these radio stations have found something in the music that they,re eager to pass on to their listeners., Hart
,s teaching career at the three colleges offers different responsibilities, which he
said keeps it interesting. ,At Knox, I mainly teach private jazz piano and percussion students, as well as a jazz combo, but best of all I,m not totally limited to just those things.
,s Latin jazz group recorded a CD called Corazon in 1996, and he
,s also recorded on many CDs as a sideman.A complete listing, plus audio and video clips, can be found on www.kevinhartjazz.com.
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