Steven Grover, Instructor in Music, died on July 7, 2016, in Augusta, Maine.
(The following was published in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on July 13, 2016:)
AUGUSTA – Drummer/composer Steve Grover was born on Feb. 26, 1956, in Lewiston.
At age 9, he began studying with local jazz drummer Dick Demers. A graduate of Edward Little High School and the University of Maine at Augusta, Steve also attended the Berklee College of Music. He performed with and composed for many of the greatest Maine jazz performers, including guitar legend Lenny Breau. As a mentor and a teacher, Steve inspired students from every corner of Maine to share his love of music.
As one of the founders, along with clarinetist Brad Terry, of The Friends of Jazz, he brought contemporary jazz performances to hundreds of small and large Maine schools and communities. The group hosted and played with visiting artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Tate, and Gray Sargent.
Steve’s career as an educator began as an NEA-sponsored Jazz Artist-In-Residence at Mt. Ararat School in Topsham. He directed the Maine Jazz Camp at Farmington for several years, remaining in productive collaboration with camp staff members throughout his life. He taught extensively in the music program at UMA, but also directed ensembles and gave drum and piano lessons at Bates College, Bowdoin College, UMA and USM, and at the International Summer Jazz School in Cracow, Poland, and the Maine Percussion Camp.
As this formidable list suggests, he was dedicated to reaching students at all levels, generous with his talents, and eager to welcome students into the ranks of professional musicianship by inviting young musicians to perform with him.
A graceful and prolific composer, Steve’s jazz compositions involved collaborations with poets and theater artists. He won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz/BMI Jazz Composers Competition in 1994 for “Blackbird Suite,” a song cycle based on the Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
The Maine premiere, in 1991 at the Celebration Barn, was a multi-media presentation with the theater artist Lee Faulkner, which incorporated music, choreography, masks, mime, video, film, and slide projections. The work premiered in Washington at the Kennedy Center in 1994. Steve won JAZZIZ magazine’s Percussion On Fire talent search in 1996, for the the CD recording of “Blackbird Suite.”
Steve’s albums, which include “In The G Zone,” “Blackbird Suite,” “Consideration,” “Remember,” “Breath,” “The Garden Above,” “Between Now And After,” “Flying” (a jazz Beatles project), “Statement,” “Haiku” and “Variations,” have been critically praised in Downbeat, JazzTimes and Cadence. His most recent work, “Variations,” is a poetic and musical tribute to Thelonius Monk, based on poems by Anthony Walton.
Steve’s participation in performances with Frank Carlberg on piano, vocalist Christine Correa, Chris Klaxton on trumpet, Duncan Hardy on saxophone and bassist Chris Van Voorst Van Beest last March and April was a triumphant celebration of his compositional gifts and strong friendships.
Steve’s loving family was with him as he left the world peacefully at MaineGeneral Hospital in Augusta on July 7, 2016.
He is survived by his beloved mother, Senja Grover, of Lewiston; dear brother, Ralph Grover and wife Vicki of Colchester, Vt.; nephew, Jamie Grover and wife Marie of Lewiston; nephew, SSG Joel Grover of Gloucester, Va; nephew, Jonathan Grover of Manchester, N. H.; and niece, Amy Haugen of Eagan, Minn.
Steve’s father, Ernest R. Grover, died in 1977.