Steve Ramsdell


Steve grew up in Solana Beach CA playing rock and original music.  Studies with jazz guitarist Peter Sprague and an improvisation class with Jimmy Cheatham began a journey in the jazz idiom.  While an undergraduate at Northwestern  University, his musical focus was classical guitar with Anne Waller.  Steve participated in numerous master classes with master guitarists Oscar Ghiglia, Bob Guthrie, the Assad brothers and other notables of the classical guitar world.  Steve also performed in concerts and clinics with jazz legends such as Rufus Reid, Barry Harris, John Abercrombie and many others while at NU.  Experiences at the Bloom School of Jazz include studies with David Bloom and clinics with Randy Weston, Johnny Griffin and John Scofield.

Editorial and transcription work was done for Paul Berliner as he completed his tome Thinking in Jazz.  Later explorations of the music of Zimbabwe occurred in performances with Berliner’s ensemble.  Steve’s interview with John Abercrombie was published in the IAJE Journal (1996).  Further post graduate studies have led Steve to folkloric workshops in Brazil (1997) and Cuba (1998).

As a freelance musician in Chicago, Steve has performed in a wide range of situations.  Recent highlights include shows at SPACE in Evanston, sets at 2010 College of Dupage winter Jazz Festival with Zvonimir Tot and a showcase for Jessie Arlen at Lulu’s in Toronto.  Performances with vocalist Spider Saloff include nights in San Francisco at Jazz at Pearl’s, Chicago at the Auditorium Theater and New York City at Iridium.  Shows with bassist composer Matt Geraghty have included the 2007 Chicago Jazz Festival and engagements in Lisbon Portugal.   Steve is currently busy as music director of the contemporary band Entourage from Arlen Music.

Steve has also maintained steady gigs in a variety of styles over the years at Geja’s Cafe, the Bop Shop, the Underground Wonder Bar, Magoo’s Underground Lounge, Phyllis’ Musical Inn, Joy Blue and Katerina’s.  He has  performed his own compositions for the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective at the Green Mill, Bernie Sahlins’ production of the Cure at Troy and concerts at numerous colleges including frequent performances with the Arts Center Jazz Ensemble at the College of DuPage.  Work with fellow Wheaton Conservatory faculty featured performances of pieces by Astor Piazzolla and George Crumb. In addition he has performed Mario Casteluovo-Tedesco’s Romancero Gitano with the New Classic Singers. 

Steve currently teaches at the College of DuPage, Wheaton College, and the Music Institute of Chicago. 



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