Dave Samuels, American vibraphonist, Died at 70

Dave Samuels was born on October 9, 1948, and died on April 22, 2019; he was an American vibraphonist and marimba player who spent many years with the contemporary jazz group Spyro Gyra.

His recordings and live shows during that period also reflect his prowess on the steelpan, a tuned percussion instrument of Trinidadian origin.

Dave was born in Waukegan, Illinois. At the age of six, he started playing drums and piano. He studied vibes and marimba while a student at Boston University.


He continued his studies at the Berklee College of Music, also in Boston, and studied with vibraphonist Gary Burton.

Dave taught percussion at Berklee before moving to New York City in 1974. Soon he was recording and performing with Gerry Mulligan, Carla Bley, and Gerry Niewood.

He performed in a vibe/marimba duo with David Friedman, who had been his teacher at Boston, releasing albums under the name Double Image.

In 1979, Dave began recording with Spyro Gyra, eventually becoming a member of the band in 1986 and continuing with it through the 1990s.

During the 1980s, Dave also recorded with Paul McCandless, Art Lande, Anthony Davis, and Bobby McFerrin. In 1993 he created the Caribbean Jazz Project.

Dave wrote columns for the magazines Modern Percussionist and Modern Drummer, a method book, and made an instructional video. He has tutored at Berklee and the New England Conservatory of Music.

On April 22, 2019, the official Spyro Gyra Facebook page reported that Dave Samuels had passed away at age 70, due to an undisclosed long-term illness.