A musical tale inspired by Darrell's own journey from New York to his adopted home of Portland, Oregon, Smokin' Java spins mainstream jazz into a rich tapestry of sound with classic jazz standards, lyrical ballads, and distinctive originals. At heart I am a storyteller. In every role I occupy, whether player, composer, educator, or presenter, I'm always trying to find a better way to bridge the gap, to reach out move people, to tell the story better," Grant says. When the pianist left New York for Portland in 1997 to accept an appointment as Professor of Jazz Studies at Portland State University, he found a local music scene that encouraged individual expression: There is something about being in the Northwest that inspires a fresh kind of thinking. They do things differently out here. Being in this place has definitely inspired me to break the mold, to look for new ways to reach people, and fresh ways to tell my story."
Darrell Grant was introduced to international audiences in 1988 as the pianist in vocalist Betty Carter's trio. After graduating from Betty Carter Univ. he performed regularly with Frank Morgan, Sonny Fortune, Roy Haynes, Chico Freeman, Craig Harris and a host of others. In 1992 Darrell replaced Mulgrew Miller as pianist in Tony Williams' quintet. In 1994 Grant released his debut CD, Black Art, which was heralded by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Jazz CD's of 1994." Darrell has performed extensively as a bandleader and solo artist throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe in venues ranging from clubs to major jazz festivals, including the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival. He has been a featured guest on the BET On Jazz ("the cable jazz channel") Jazz Central television program, and has performed on Marian McPartland's Peabody Award-winning Piano Jazz series on National Public Radio. Black Art was followed up by Darrell's 1995 quintet release The New Bop, and 1998's Twilight Stories.
Other CD's featuring Darrell's piano work include Greg Osby's 3-D Lifestyles, Don Braden's The Fire Within, and Voice of the Saxophone, Craig Harris' F-Stops, and recordings with Vincent Herring and Marlon Jordan. In 1998 Grant was commissioned by the Nike World Masters Games to write theme music for their opening ceremony, televised on ESPN. In 1999 he composed a major Duke Ellington tribute for the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival's celebration of the Ellington centennial. In addition to a busy bandleading schedule, Grant continues to collaborate with both east coast and west coast artists including Braden, and fluegelhornist Dmitri Matheny.">