Steve Grossman, a legendary figure in jazz saxophone, had an early career that was nothing short of spectacular, notably marked by his time playing with Miles Davis. Born on January 18, 1951, in Brooklyn, New York, Grossman demonstrated his prodigious talent early on, playing alto saxophone from the age of eight and later adding soprano saxophone in his mid-teens. His skill, strongly echoing the influence of John Coltrane, caught the attention of Miles Davis, who hired Grossman to replace Wayne Shorter in his fusion band when Grossman was only 18 years old.
Joining Miles Davis’s band in 1969, Grossman made significant contributions to the group, recording seminal albums such as “Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East,” “A Tribute to Jack Johnson,” and “Live-Evil,” all in 1970. His tenure with Davis was short but impactful, helping to shape the sound of the band during a crucial period of transition and innovation in Davis’s career.
After leaving Davis’s band in 1970, Grossman joined the pioneering jazz-rock group Dreams, featuring musicians like Randy and Michael Brecker, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie. He then co-formed the fusion band Stone Alliance with bassist Gene Perla and drummer Don Alias. Grossman’s early career is a testament to his exceptional technique and improvisational skills. His time with Davis, in particular, placed him at the forefront of the jazz scene, allowing him to work alongside some of the most notable musicians of the era and contribute to a period of significant transformation in jazz.
Grossman’s work during this period was characterized by a strong rhythmic footing and clarity of attack, which propelled him into the spotlight in the 1970s. His talent and contributions during these formative years set the stage for a prolific career that spanned over five decades, during which he continued to push the boundaries of jazz saxophone and inspire countless musicians who followed in his footsteps.