Bob Ross has become known as one of Cincinnati's favorite local jazz musicians with a knack for writing beautiful original works. Since moving to the area in 2010 he has made regular appearances at The Greenwich, York St. Cafe, The Celestial, Washington Platform, Jazz Central, Dicks Den, The Blue Wisp and several other smaller venues and events. Bob has also performed in the Dayton, Columbus, and Philadelphia area and has been regularly featured on Cincinnati's Local 12 as well as Philadelphia's WRTI 90.1. His group has featured many great musicians including JD Allen, Pete Mills, Mike Wade, and Mike Sharfe.
Bob graduated from Morehead State University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Music and in 2010 from The University Of The Arts in Philadelphia, PA with a Masters degree in Jazz Studies. He has had the opportunity to study with a list of great teachers including Ray Ross, Glenn Ginn, Gordon Towell, Steven Snyder, Tom Giacabetti, Mike Kennedy, Ben Schachter, Don Glanden, Richard Lawn, Jimmy Bruno, and Pat Martino.
Currently, Bob is the adjunct professor of Jazz/Contemporary Guitar at Mount St. Joseph University and a faculty member of West Chester Academy of Music
"Guitarist Bob Ross plays and writes in a style that is reminiscent of Pat Metheny, but he's finding his own path. He has a warm woody tone, and improvises with confidence and authority. Bob knows how to use space and has a real knack for melody in his tunes and solos. I look forward to following his career."
-John Stowell, Jazz Guitarist, Clinician
"Nice Sound and a very creative approach."
-Jack Wilkins, NYC Jazz Guitarist
"Bob Ross is an excellent guitarist with a bright future! This is a beautiful collection of originals by someone with an ear for melody and strong sense of harmony!"
- Peter Bernstein, NYC Jazz Guitarist
Tell us about some of your early interests in music.
My early interests in music revolved around Heavy Metal. I was a huge fan of Megadeth and Metallica and felt my true calling was to be a "shred" guitarist. I would watch a VHS tape of Metallica for hours a day just to mimic Kirk Hammett. Not long after, I discovered Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, and several other instrumental guitarists.
Many of my family members have/were involved in the military and then pursued construction work. There wasn't a musical environment but rather, a hard physical work environment. My summers were spent working in tobacco fields and mowing yards to earn a few dollars. Around 11yrs old I picked up the trumpet in band and kept playing for 8yrs. At 14 my parents bought my first guitar and amp from a pawn shop. This was due to the obsession I had developed from playing a buddy's guitar. Afterwards, I spent many hours trying to figure out how to play by listening to my favorite bands since I had no teacher until college.
When were you first interested in jazz and guitar?
My interest in jazz formed after a few years of college. I couldn't figure out why my fellow class mates in jazz improv where so excited to hear Miles Davis on So What. I was used to the flury of notes coming from the guitar players I admired. This lead me to keep a closed mind about jazz until my 3rd year of undergrad. One of the main game changers is when I heard John Coltrane (later coltrane). I heard his "sheets of sound" and become obsessed with figuring out how to transfer that to guitar. Then I heard Allan Holdsworth! From there I continued my ongoing journey of discovery.
Do you play any other instruments?
Guitar is my primary focus. I did play trumpet for 8yrs and I have had piano lessons. I feel as though I'm a slow learner, so one instrument is enough to keep me busy, especially with my 1yr son running around.
How has your music evolved?
My compositions and improvisational processes have evolved from a straight ahead jazz style to more of a modern style over the last few years. This is a result of the artists that inspire me as well as my comfort with the instrument. At one stage, I felt a certain academic pressure when composing. This led to a rigid feel. It was when I allowed for emotion to take charge that I felt a comfort in composing. You will find that my compositions are not written for other musicians in order to impress or to prove some sort of academic achievement. Instead, I find that those compositions written with simplicity in mind, allows the average listener to join my journey.
Who has influenced your music the most? Why and how?
There are several musicians that have influenced my journey. These include Ben Monder, John Stowell, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Adam Rogers, Lage Lund, Chris Potter, Jerry Bergonzi, Martijn Van Iterson, Jesse Van Ruller, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Ben Shachter, etc. The one player that has had the biggest impact is Jonathan Kreisberg. I was in Philly when I first heard his name. I picked up his album Trioing and found myself captured by his rhythmic power and strong sense of melody. Soon after I was immersed in his albums and trying to capture his tone.
What's most important to you in terms of how you improve?
As most guitarist, I have juggled a long list of items to practice. At this point, the most important aspect is to have the technical facility to express myself. This doesn't mean the ability to play fast necessarily, but to have no limits. Is this possible? NO! However, I continue to push myself to the best of my abilities. It is through small, constant improvement where we find a sense of comfort and instability. This tension and release is a driving force.
Any career endeavor will present a set of challenges that not only create opportunities but also hardships. Pursuing a life of music is not a sudden choice you make, but rather an ember of passion that continues to burn. This is not a hobby, but a calling.
Although the intense desire of a career in music seems ethereal, understand that this is a business.
YOU are your own business.
If you intend to "make a living" as a musician, then YOU must be responsible for YOUR business. Not only must YOU work on your instrumental skill, but also on promotional, personable, and financial skills.
This lifestyle is a process, a Journey. Opportunities may easily vanish and the balance of your life will be in a great a flux. Remember that in pursuing creativity that you must balance "real life". This is especially true if you plan to have a family, house, etc.
Don't assume that the music will take care of you. Be Proactive!
Where do you see yourself in 5 to 15 years?
In the next 15yrs I see myself as a father and a husband that has continued to support my family through my journey as a musician. I'm in the process of pursuing more educational avenues as well as recording more of my original music. My 46yr old self will still be a performing jazz guitarist, composer, and educator!
What can you share about the gear you are currently using?
Here's my gear:
You can reach me at brossmusic2 [@] gmail.com or send me a message on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bobrossjazzmusic/
Where can they find out about more gigs, dates, locations?
You can find Bob Ross jazz music on Itunes here.
You can also find Bob Ross at CD Baby here.