Steve Hobbs is the son of retired professional dancers. He started hand drums at age 7, and trumpet and drumset at 11. He switched from trumpet to vibes at age 17. Hobbs received a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from Berklee College of Music in 1978. He received a Master of Music in Jazz Mallet Performance from the University of Miami in 1982. He received 52 credits towards a Doctorate of Music Arts from the University of Northern Colorado when he dropped his studies to perform extensive touring with both the Art Van Damme Quintet, and Jumpin’ Johnny (blues).
As a vibist, Hobbs just out of Berklee at age twenty two, toured with the pop group “Janice,” which performed internationally and was featured on the Red Fox Show in 1979 and American Bandstand in 1980. The group had a number 8 hit titled “I Told You” on Casey Kasem’s, Kasem’s Top 40. He has also toured with Tom Harrell, Randy Johnston, Art Van Damme, Jumpin’ Johnny (Blues)and many others. Steve has recorded both as a leader and sideman with Kenny Barron, Tom Harrell, Bob Malach, Bruce Forman, Rufus Reid, Eddie Marshall, John Patitucci, Alan Broadbent, Randy Johnston, Bill O’Connell, Joe LaBarbera, Victor Lewis, Peter Washington, John Riley, Steve Berrios, Bob Sheppard, Luis Conti, Dave Valentin, Adam Kolker, Kenny Walker, John Gunther, Greg Gisbert, Martin Bejerano, Teresa Carroll and many more.
After extensive touring with many artists including Randy Johnston, Spike Robinson, Tom Harrell, and Art Van Damme, Steve recorded his first album as leader titled Steve Hobbs/Escape on the California based Cexton label with Bruce Forman, Eddie Marshall, and Rufus Reid in 1988. The record hit #10 on the Gavin Jazz Chart. It was at this point where Steve began working major clubs and jazz festivals as a leader and headliner at such festivals as Corpus Christi with the Steve Hobbs/Bruce Forman Quartet, and the Houston International Jazz fest co-leading a group with Gary Bartz.
In 1991 Steve recorded Steve Hobbs/Cultural Diversity in Hollywood with Bob Sheppard, Alan Broadbent, John Pattituci, Joe LaBarbera and Luis Conti on Timeless Records. This record hit #5 on the Gavin Jazz Chart. The recording was critically acclaimed on an international level opening the door to a long term recording contract with Candid Records/distributed by Warner Brothers out of New York/London beginning in 1992 through 2005. Several recordings were recorded on Candid with a hand picked group by Candid owner Alan Bates consisting of Steve on Vibes, Kenny Barron/piano, Peter Washington/bass and Victor Lewis/drums. This group received stellar reviews in Downbeat, Jazziz, Jazz Times as well as major newspapers in New York and London ad jazz publications world wide. Two of these recordings are still top sellers and have been repressed on several occasions. They are titled Steve Hobbs/On the Lower East Side, and Steve Hobbs/Second Encounter. This group has been featured on dozens of compilation CD’s including other artists such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, Dexter Gordon, Sarah Vaughn and more. During these years Steve was playing major jazz clubs in United States and Europe.
In 1998 Steve was listed in the BMG All Music Guide to jazz as one of the ten most influential jazz vibists in the world during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
In 2001 while touring Europe, Steve was on a BBC interview recorded in London Titled Interview with two great American Vibraphonists, Gary Burton and Steve Hobbs. Hobbs has been featured with many greats in Europe including Americans Spike Robinson , Tom Hill and Kirk Lightsey.
In 2007 Steve’s current recording group consisting of Steve on vibes/marimba, Bill O’Connell/piano, Peter Washington/bass and john Riley/drums recorded their first recording titled Steve Hobbs/Spring Cycle with guests Tom Harrell, Bob Malach and the late Steve Berrios and Dave Valentin, This release hit #3 on the Jazz Week Jazz Chart and was nominated as best jazz recording of the year by the Jazz Journalists Association of America.
In 2010, Hobbs, O’Connell, Washingon and Riley released their second recording titled “Steve Hobbs/Vibes Straight Up on Challenge Records. The recording shot up to the #1 spot on the Jazz Week Jazz Chart its second week. It remained on top for seven consecutive weeks! The same CD was also #7 for the Jazz Week Jazz Chart Top 100 releases for the year of 2010.
In late 2012 Steve was approached by Canadian producer Peter Maxymych to arrange music for an Art Van Damme tribute release also on the Challenge label. With a group named The North American Jazz Alliance. Steve also played vibes on this recording. It made it to #9 on the Jazz Week Chart.
In late 2016 Steve’s recording group with Bill O’Connell, Peter Washington, John Riley , and Adam Kolker recorded their third recording on Challenge records titled “Steve Hobbs/Tribute to Bobby.” Bobby Hutcherson was a mentor and friend of Hobbs. Steve is featured primarily on marimba and some vibes. As of January 2018, the album has received rave reviews from US, Canada, Russia, Poland, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Philippines and most notably was chosen as Downbeat Magazine’s January 2018 Editors Pick.
Hobbs has been featured on jazz radio across America, the Bob Parlocha Show, Music Choice Cable TV, Pandora, Spotify, itunes, Jazz After Hours with Jim Wilke, The David Sanborn Show, Downbeat Magazine, Jazziz Magazine, Jazz Times Magazine, Cadence Magazine, The London Observer, The New York Times, All About Jazz Magazine, and many more. journals, magazines and newspapers in France, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, United Kingdom, Italy, Japan and more.
Hobbs has been in Downbeat’s critics and reader’s polls on several occasions dating from 1993 to the present time.
In live performance Steve has been featured with vocalists Teresa Carroll, John LaBelle, Johnny San Sone, Giacomo Gates. Pianists Don Friedman, Joe Bonner, Martin Bejerano, Austin Johnson, Chip Crawford, Bubba Kolb, Gary Motley, Ellen Rucker, Radam Schwartz, the late Bill Emes, Gary Moran, Saxophonists Kenny Blake, Keith Oxman, John Gunther, Gary Bartz, Al Cohn, Chris Potter, Freddy Rodriguez, Javon Jackson, Jim Crawford, Ralph Moore, Gary Thomas, James Spaulding, trumpets Greg Gisbert, Tom Harrell, Tom Browne, Jim Ketch, Ray Codrington. Trombones Julian Priester, Gerald Shynett, Bass: Ratso Harris, Dave Larue, Jerry Peek, Kenny Walker, Paul Wharburton, Peter Washington, John Lee, Jimmy Masters. Guitarists Randy Johnston, Bruce Forman, Dean Brown, John Hart, Fred Hamilton.Drummers Yuron Israel, Stix Hooper, Bobby Worth, Joe Hunt, Lewis Nash, Howard Curtis.
Steve has mentored many younger jazz musicians, most notably piano whizz Austin Johnson who just finished 8 years with the Jason Marsalis Quartet in 2017.
Steve endorses Yamaha vibes and Innovative Percussion mallets and has taught master classes at Duke University, Yale University, Cincinnati Conservatory, University of Akron, Cleveland State University, The Cornish Institute, Whittman College, Eastern Washington University, Florida State University, Radford University, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and many more.