Marty Ashby is a jazz guitarist, GRAMMY®-winning producer, programming consultant, motivational speaker and lifelong advocate of jazz music and its unique place in American culture. In his work as an arts administrator and educator, he remains dedicated to the belief that Jazz celebrates the experience of life. And that if everyone knew how to swing—musicians and non-musicians alike—the world would be a happier, more harmonious place.
He is Executive Producer of MCG Jazz, a program of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG), a multi-disciplined center for arts and learning. Since starting MCG Jazz in 1987, he has produced more than 2,000 concerts, 50 recordings on the MCG Jazz label, and raised $25 million. For three decades, Ashby has been an artistic advisor and producer for jazz concerts and festivals around the country and a consultant to non-profits working to expand the Jazz audience. He has presented his Jazz is Life® professional development workshop to corporate and community audiences nationally and internationally. Additionally, he teaches Business of Jazz courses at the university level. A professional musician since age eight, he continues to play and record.
After graduating from Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Ashby moved to New York City to continue the pursuit of music and capitalize on relationships developed while in Ithaca. In order to survive in the city, he had three jobs and worked as a musician in every conceivable way from tuba gigs to banjo gigs to $50 Jazz club gigs. One of his day jobs was selling subscriptions to the New York Philharmonic. The immense business structure of the orchestra fascinated Ashby and he ended up in a management position very quickly. Intrigued by the gross disparity between the orchestra, opera, ballet, etc., and the jazz industry, the goal became how to present jazz in the same manner as the other performing arts.
After spending the next five years working for a variety of performing arts groups including: The Cleveland Orchestra, Ohio Ballet, National Symphony and finally The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Ashby put the marketing, promotion, consumer database management, presenting, and fundraising techniques he had learned to work on small scale jazz events and festivals.
In 1987, Ashby was introduced to the newly completed Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and immediately knew he had to work there. Leaving the Pittsburgh Symphony and taking a 50% pay cut, Ashby set out to create a Jazz subscription series. Thirty years later, Ashby is now the Executive Producer of MCG Jazz, a program of the MCG. The mission of MCG Jazz is to preserve, present and promote jazz.