Ryan Keberle is at the forefront of both the jazz and commercial music scenes in NYC.
Few musicians have managed to navigate the richly varied avenues of New York City’s
abundant music scene with the same passion and adaptability as trombonist and composer
Ryan Keberle. Hailed by the New York Times as a “young trombonist of vision and
composure”, Keberle’s diverse talents have earned him a place alongside a staggering array
of legends, superstars, and up-and-coming innovators.
Leading his pianoless quartet Catharsis or arranging for the little big band setting of his
Double Quartet, Keberle draws upon lessons learned playing alongside masters of a
multitude of forms, from jazz legends to indie rock ground-breakers, R&B superstars to
classical virtuosos. He has toured with the acclaimed indie rock songwriter Sufjan Stevens
and with the ground-breaking big bands of Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue; he
has accompanied soul hitmakers Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake as well as jazz legends
Rufus Reid and Wynton Marsalis; he’s been heard on movie soundtracks for filmmakers like
Woody Allen and in the pit for the Tony-winning Broadway musical “In the Heights.”
Keberle’s own music integrates those wide-ranging experiences into a highly personal jazz
language that pays heed to tradition while searching out fresh and original pathways.
Born and raised in Spokane, Washington, Keberle was surrounded by music from an early
age. Both of his parents were music educators, his father a jazz trumpeter and professor at
Spokane’s Whitworth University, his mother a piano teacher and longtime church music
director. Keberle started out by studying classical violin and piano before adopting the
trombone as his primary instrument; classical music remains one of the many components
of his arsenal, as he continues to perform with brass chamber ensembles. He also followed
in his mother’s footsteps, serving as music director at a Manhattan Catholic church for
Keberle moved east to study at the Manhattan School of Music, where he came under the
tutelage of renowned trombonist Steve Turre, as well as composers Mike Abene and Manny
Album. He was the sole member of his graduating class chosen to receive the William H.
Borden Award for musical excellence in jazz. In May 2003 Keberle became a member of
Jazz at Juilliard’s first graduating class, having studied with Wycliffe Gordon and David
Berger, whose big band he has worked with over the ensuing years.
In 2007 Keberle released the self-titled debut of his Double Quartet, a malleable, brass-
heavy octet that showcased his deft composing and arranging skills. The band’s second
disc, Heavy Dreaming, was released in 2010 and garnered rave reviews and slots on year-
end lists from magazines like JazzTimes and Stereophile.
Early 2012 marked the debut of Keberle’s latest group, the pianoless quartet Catharsis,
comprising some of the music’s most compelling young voices: Mike Rodriguez (trumpet),
Jorge Roeder (bass), and Eric Doob (drums). On Music is Emotion, their 2013 debut release,
described as “a potent blend of cinematic sweep and lush, ear-grabbing melodies” by the
Los Angeles Times, Keberle’s writing for the band reveals his more melodic and emotional
side on pieces driven by groove, the blues, and Latin jazz, with which all four members
have extensive experience. Keberle has worked with the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra and
with Brazilian superstar Ivan Lins, and was named Latin jazz trombonist of the year by the
Latin Jazz Corner website in 2008 and 2009. In the Fall of 2014 Ryan Keberle & Catharsis
will release their sophomore record, Into the Zone, on the critically acclaimed record label,
Greenleaf Music. For this record, their most expressive and personal musical output to
date, Keberle has added the incredible Chilean vocalist, Camila Meza.
Both his own compositions and his arrangements of works by other composers evidence
Keberle’s expansive tastes, which encompass Duke Ellington, The Beatles, Sufjan Stevens,
and Ravel, among countless others. His work in the indie rock world, including a world tour
with Stevens, has provided the newest fork in what has been an unpredictable career. It has
also afforded him the chance to return to the piano, as he has with the singer/songwriter
Nedelle Torrisi of the band Cryptacize. But he has also performed with the Saturday Night
Live House band and with “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane. His music has taken him
to venues across the globe, throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South
The sum of these eclectic travels is the distinctive, original voice of Ryan Keberle. Whether
performing in any one of these vastly different contexts or leading his own band, Keberle
continues to evolve into one of the most intriguing and vital musicians of his generation.