Bob Erlendson Biography

Canadian jazz pianist, composer, arranger and educator Bob Erlendson is considered by many to be one of the finest jazz musicians this nation has produced.

Born in Winnipeg in 1931, the eldest of four children, Bob started out playing classical piano, going on to graduate from United College (now the University of Winnipeg) with a General Arts degree. This was followed by five years five years of intensive study with renowned theory and composition master, Gordon Delamont. It was during these years Bob discovered his passion for jazz.

Over the next 50-plus years, Erlendson, considered by many to be one of Canada’s finest pianists, has performed/recorded with many of the biggest names in Canadian jazz, including Lenny Breau, Ed Bickert, Tommy Banks, Rob McConnell, Reg Schwager, Moe Koffman, P.J. Perry, Pat LaBarbera, and dozens more.

Following work around the country, Bob, a widowed father of two, lived and performed in major Canadian cities including Winnipeg, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, before returning to Calgary in 2008 to settle in with his youngest daughter and family.

Far from a household name yet highly esteemed in music circles, Bob has mentored many musicians and is considered a pioneer on the Canadian jazz scene. Among Bob's students was the late, great jazz guitarist Lenny Breau. American born Breau had relocated with his family to Winnipeg, where he approached Bob for music lessons during the late 1950's. Up to that point Breau had been a country music player, but he fascinated by the melody, harmony and progressions found in jazz music, Bob taught the young guitarist jazz theory and introduced him to the music of the masters, including pianists Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner. This inspired a whole new direction in Breau's music. Erlendson's impact on Breau's career is well documented in the television documentary 'The Genius of Lenny Breau' and in the book, 'One Long Tune' by Ron Forbes-Roberts. As a result of his time with Breau, two of Bob Erlendson's original compositions were featured in 'Guitar Player Magazine'.

A prolific composer, Bob has created a large body of work including those for octet and trio, brass quintet and includes a whopping 67 Bebop originals, some dating back to the 1950's. He's released three critically acclaimed recordings, the self-titled Bob Erlendson Solo Piano (1987), Pardonnez Moi and the first of two live octet recordings, All About Jazz - Vol I (2008). All About Jazz - Vol II is slated for release April 2, 2011.

In recent years Bob remains active as a performer, recording artist and teacher. He's headlined major concerts in Toronto and Calgary, leading his own ensembles as well as recording and touring with singers Shirley Eickhard and Georgia Ambrose.