May 28, 2024

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Marty Ashby is a jazz guitarist, GRAMMY-winning producer: Video

02.06. – Happy Birthday !!! 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.

Ashby has served as a panelist for countless workshops and conferences from 1984 to the present, including the National Endowment for the Arts, several state Arts Councils, the International, Association for Jazz Education, and a jazz connect conference at the Association for Performing Arts Presenters.

During his undergraduate years at Ithaca College, Ashby began producing Jazz festivals in order to escape the smoky club scene and, more importantly, present the music in a dignified way. This proved to be a wonderful vehicle to premiere new music and perform with a variety of his idols for the first time.

Ashby’s presenting expertise comes from 30 years and over $20 million worth of Jazz activities and programming. He has developed full Jazz concert series programming, coordinated block-booking opportunities, curated one-time-only events with youth Jazz education, audience development, and outreach projects. He has served as artistic advisor and producer for Jazz concerts and festivals around the country, including the Animal Crackers jazz series in Racine, WI for the past 29 years.

Since starting MCG Jazz, Ashby has produced 2,000 concerts and 50 recordings on the MCG Jazz label, including six GRAMMY® Award winners and a series of educational DVDs produced from the MCG archives collection.

Ashby began performing professionally at age eight with his parents and brothers in their hometown of Baldwinsville, NY. The “Ashby Family” was one of Central New York’s most in-demand Society Bands during the 1970’s and provided a strong musical base for all of the Ashby boys. He was accepted to the Ithaca College music program on scholarship at age 16 and thus graduated High School in three years to pursue a career in music.

As a guitarist, Ashby has performed and recorded with Slide Hampton, Claudio Roditi, Nancy Wilson, Paquito D’Rivera, Herbie Mann, Phil Woods, The Dizzy Gillespie™ All-Star Big Band and others. In addition to his musicianship, Ashby has curated and managed national tours for Jazz Across the Americas and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra’s Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

Ashby has consulted with many jazz presenting and other non-profit organizations including, San Francisco Jazz Festival, Japan Society, Museum of African American Museum, The NASH and as the gallery consultant for the Jazz exhibit in the North American gallery at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ. Ashby was selected as the EPP Goldman-Sachs fellow at the National Museum of American History. He developed a high-level strategic planning model for the reopening of the museum’s west wing in 2014, which includes live music and public programs aligned with the Smithsonian Institution’s pan-intuitional strategic goals.

Over the years, he has served as artistic advisor and producer for Jazz concerts and festivals, including the Animal Crackers jazz series in Racine, WI, Jazz on the Circle at Severance Hall in Cleveland, OH, and the Jazz at Seven Springs Festival in Champion, PA He has developed marketing plans for subscription concert series, designs for performance and recording venues, and strategic plans for audience development and revenue generation.

As a motivational speaker, Ashby builds a bridge from the bandstand to the boardroom through his Jazz is Life® workshops. He presents a provocative conversation on the themes of partnership, leadership, teamwork, risk taking and creative problem solving in the workplace, using the jazz principals of improvisation, creativity and collaboration. His speaking engagements always have a twist – or a swing – his guitar always makes an appearance.

He has presented five seminars for Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Network (New York, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Japan), two for IBM Japan, at TEDx, Family Housing Fund, I Live NY, and for Starbucks Global Summit. His Starbucks presentation is mentioned in Howard Schultz’ book, Onward.

He also collaborates with magician Paul Gertner, illustrating the connections between jazz and magic, in performances and presentations for corporate audiences — Jazz Magic. Common themes of improvisation, living in the moment, exploration, risk taking and investment emerge during the performances.

Ashby’s speaking presentations are not limited to business development, he has also served as an adjunct professor at Oberlin Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College, where he taught a Business of Jazz course to jazz performance majors, and the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. At Oberlin, the semester long study included an overview of the Global Jazz Business, providing insights into key music business components and their relationship to Jazz. Students explore a variety of careers in the jazz business, examine the current issues in the music business, compare latest technology opportunities and create an action plan for their Jazz career. For Duquesne University, he offers two workshops: 1) Brazilian Jazz, an in-depth investigation of Brazilian jazz its compositional structure, its contributors, performance techniques and its influence on other genres of music; and 2) Barney Kessel and the Art of Trio Guitar, designed for composers and arrangers whose primary instrument is guitar or bass, but is open to all performance majors and focuses on arranging techniques.

In September 2012, Ashby received the Century Club Award. This is the highest honor given to Duquesne University alumni. The Century Club was established during Duquesne’s 100th anniversary in 1978 to recognize graduates with exemplary records of professional achievement and service to the University and community. Of the more than 98,000 alumni, only 317 have been admitted to its elite ranks.

Ashby has received three GRAMMY® Awards and three Latin GRAMMY® Awards for producing albums in categories including: Best Large Jazz Ensemble, Best Latin Jazz and Best Jazz Vocal album and was nominated as a musician in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble category at the 55th annual GRAMMY® Awards. He was also named one of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Top 50 Power Brokers in the Arts in 2001 and 1998.

Ashby has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Ithaca College and a Masters in Music from Duquesne University.

He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (LARAS) and a member of the Society of American Magicians (SAM).

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