Meet Duane Eubanks
AAJ: Have you performed with Uri Caine?
DE: Yeah. I played with him at Ortlieb's in Philadelphia a couple of times, and I sat in with him in Spain. He's a monster pianist. He had a couple of bands there, but Steve Wilson and I sat in with his trio. Uri had Drew Gress and Ralph Peterson with him.
AAJ: When did you move to New York?
DE: I'll be here five years in December. I still feel like a baby here. I'm still meeting people and trying to get around.
AAJ: Did Robin help you when you moved?
DE: Both he and Kevin did. After I finished college. I got a degree in business from the University of Maryland, and then I studied music at Temple University. I was there for a year, and I wanted to stay there for another year so that I could get some more things together. Robin and Kevin sat me down and said that I might as well get it together in New York. I had to face up to my fears. Orrin Evans and I moved to New York together and got a place here. So, at least I had a good friend to face things with. Orrin has been doing well lately too; he's recording on Criss Cross. The public will hear even more from him when he gets older.
AAJ: You had studied business?
DE: Yes. At the time I started college, I didn't want to play music. I had stopped playing music throughout high school. I transferred to the University of Maryland with my twin. Shane was a music major, and he was in the band there. Then he talked me into joining the band. After I started playing again, I realized that I really missed the music. I thought, "I should be working on music instead," and I put aside the business studies. When I told my parents about my decision, they said, "Are you kidding? We have all of this money invested in you. You can't stop now." I told them, " I don't want to study business any more. I just want to play music." But I completed my requirements for a business administration degree, but at the same time, I started getting serious about music. The music director was John Lamkin, Jr. He's a drummer who plays with Donald Harrison and Darren Barrett. John is making a name for himself.
AAJ: And then you went to Temple.
DE: Yes, I was trying to grasp the basics that I was never really exposed to. I taught myself chords and how to transcribe solos. I wasn't learning much in school, but I was in a musical environment. That's exactly what I needed. As I said, I wanted to stay another year to learn more theory and harmony. But Robin and Kevin talked me into moving here.
AAJ: What did your parents think of you going back to music school?
DE: Well, they didn't pay for it. [Laughs] Once they saw how serious I was about music, they accepted it. Since I paid for it myself, earning the money was a learning experience in itself as I approached my dreams.
AAJ: What do your parents think of having a famous musical family?
DE: They'e very very proud of all of our accomplishments. Even if all of us brothers had been truck drivers, we would have been very blessed to be a part of a two-parent household. That's not very prevalent any more. Our parents showed us love, and they showed us right from wrong. Also, they led by example to prove what is possible from hard work. We had good role models.
AAJ: What kind of work did your father do?
DE: He was on the Philadelphia police force for a number of years. But he left that job because blacks weren't being promoted at the time. So he got a job in corporate security at AT&T, where he was promoted. He retired from AT&T. He loves the slow blues, and I bought him a harmonica for Christmas. Also, he loves the Jimi Hendrix blues that Robin did on his CD, Get 2 It. Whenever Dad comes to one of my gigs, I make sure that I do one of those gutbucket blues tunes.
AAJ: You mother is a musician?
DE: Oh, yes. She's a very fine, accomplished pianist. Mostly, she plays gospel and classical music. I always hear her practicing concertos and things like that when I go home. Ray Bryant, her brother, raves about my mother's playing. At the moment, my mother plays for churches around town. You wouldn't find her in a jazz club.
AAJ: And Shane is your twin. Did you play in school?
DE: I played trumpet and Shane played trombone. We started playing music in sixth grade. I stopped playing in ninth grade. Shane moved on to a performing arts school. He continued to play and majored in music. I lost interest.
AAJ: What was it like for Shane to be another trombone player in the same family?
DE: Hearing Robin blew our minds. Shane and I grew up together, and we never heard a trombone played the way Robin does itthat fast and that cleanly articulated. It's amazing.
AAJ: What is Shane doing now?
DE: Our paths have switched. Shane was teaching music at a high school in Maryland for four or five years, and he grew tired of it. He didn't like being that far away from home. So, he moved back to Philadelphia. Now, he's an assistant manager at Home Depot. He has had a couple promotions, and so he has stayed there. To teach in Pennsylvania, he would have had to be re-certified since his teaching certificate is from Maryland.