Craig Bailey


Craig Bailey's interest in music began at the age of eight when he learned how to play the recorder with a small group of classmates. Following that, he became a part of the All City Boys Choir in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He enrolled in the beginning band program in junior high and took up the clarinet, saxophone and flute, perfecting his skills in playing all three instruments in high school, then in college.

Inspired after earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Miami, he headed to New York City in 1985. As a young artist in New York, Craig worked with drummer Charli Persip's Superband. Here, Craig made many musical contacts and heard some of the jazz world's finest veterans and young lions. After he joined the world renowned group of Panama Francis and his Savoy Sultans, Craig learned more about traditional swing music. With Francis' group, he traveled to Europe for the first time experiencing the great appreciation of the European audiences.

After playing with the Savoy Sultans for two years, Craig landed an audition with Ray Charles and became the lead alto saxophonist (1988-2004). While working with Ray Charles, Craig worked with other artists such as the TanaReid Quintet, co-led by bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Akira Tana (1990-1998); Bobby Watson's Tailor Made Big Band (1993-1996); and the Tom Harrell Big Band (1999-2001) to name a few. He developed his small group writing and playing style while apprenticing with the artists mentioned and others. He draws upon the wealth of experiences from having played with some of the world's greatest composers and arrangers, as well as the experience of world travels and the exposure to all ranges of musical genres.

When recently asked about what he feels is the most important lesson he's learned from his performance travels, he reflected that one of the most musically rewarding aspects for him is to be a part of bringing to life a piece of music composed and/or arranged by the artist or arranger/composer for whom he's playing. Performing great works of music has only made him want to hone his skills in arranging and composing. While he thoroughly enjoys performing the great standards of the jazz genre, nothing compares to the thrill of performing a piece of music that he has composed and arranged himself.

His debut cd "A New Journey" met with critical acclaim, and is referenced in "The Encyclopedia of Jazz" (revised by Ira Gitler). His second release "Brooklyn" met with a favorable review in Jazztimes Magazine where jazz critic Ron Wynn wrote: "There are no stilted performances or ragged edges that repeatedly surface on blowing sessions or hired-gun dates. This band has played these songs long enough to have a polish and precision, which is refreshing. The group also brings a sense of purpose to Bailey's compositions . . . . He is not confident . . . and his impact is sizeable on Brooklyn."

Bailey is currently writing new music for a future cd release with the Brooklyn Big Band.


Compact Disc Title Artist Record Label Product/CD#
Waves of Peace Nancy Banks Orchestra Consolidated Artist CAP #902
Passing Thoughts TanaReid Quintet Concord Records #4505
Eijiro Nakagawa Eijiro Nakagawa Paddle Wheel Records
& Funk 55 (Div. Of King Records) #KIJ-134
Tailor Made Bobby Watson Columbia Records #53416
Sax Legends Saxophone Legends Paddle Wheel Records
(Div. Of King Records) #K13140
Blue Motion TanaReid Quintet Evidence Records #22075-2
Looking Forward TanaReid Quintet Evidence Records #22114
A New Journey Craig Bailey Candid Records #CACD 79725-2
Brooklyn Craig Bailey Evidence Records #22221-2
Back to Front TanaReid Quintet Evidence Records #22206
Times Mirror Tom Harrell BMG #09026-63524-2
Best Regards Kavoko Miyama Sound Hill Records #R-5B0352
Rumors Charles Licata

Compact Disc Title Artist Record Label Product/CD#
Passions of the Heart Vern Thompson Independent Label #0001
When We Young, The Last Night Classical Action #CA1001
Secret Path Dimitrios Vassilaakis Candid Records #CCD79765
New York – Brazil S.O.P. Alfa Records #ALCB-3197
Modern Creole Jazz Joël Dobat Paris Jazz #001
Inesperado Frankie Negron WEA International #B00008L3RI
Rhythm Master Vincent Ector Blue Leaf #9824