Kevin Van Sant is a jazz guitarist based in Durham, North Carolina who has performed in Russia and throughout Europe. Performances in Europe include five times at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. As of summer 2008 Van Sant has released 11 CDs as a leader or co-leader.
Born in Princeton, NJ, Van Sant first discovered jazz music from a Concord guitar sampler tape he found in Indonesia where he lived in the late 1970′s. He started playing guitar seriously in junior high school and began playing in rock bands shortly after that. Later he joined the jazz ensemble in high school where he was awarded the Louis Armstrong Award. After high school he continued playing in rock bands, performing up and down the East Coast. It was then when he began to seriously listen to jazz music as his interest in rock was fading. During those years Van Sant spent endless hours composing and recording multi-part guitar music on a 4-track recorder. In 1990 all of those efforts culminated in a self-produced record of original compositions entitled Electric Impressions. (The music of Electric Impressions can now be heard online at http://www.soundclick.com/bands/electricimpressions.htm).
In 1996 Kevin Van Sant formed a jazz trio called J’Azure whereby he released two CDs, appeared on TV and radio, and performed around the world in places such as Russia, Spain, Holland, and Switzerland. In addition to about a dozen or so concerts J’Azure also conducted master classes for music students at the conservatory in the city of Saratov. J’Azure twice participated in the Montreux Jazz Festival, performing there in both 1998 and 1999. And in 1998 J’Azure performed at the Jazz Brevard music festival in Western North Carolina for a concert that was taped by Brandford Marsalis’ radio program “Jazz Set”.
Some of Van Sant’s main early musical influences include Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Ahmad Jamal, John Coltrane, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, and many others. Today he continues to be inspired by some of the younger players who are making great jazz music today.