Eric Gruber was born in Concord, California in 1977. He began his classical studies at the early age of six; and after short trials on the piano and violin, found his match with the string bass. The bass came more quickly for him, and it wasn’t long before he was playing in a bluegrass band led by his private teacher. Bluegrass helped instill solid time and rhythm for Eric. He continued playing classically in his school orchestra, eventually becoming the principal bassist for the All City Orchestra. He was not formally introduced to jazz until high school, but it was an instant connection. Eric decided to pursue jazz in college at the University of Northern Colorado and Whitworth College of Spokane, Washington. While in Spokane, Eric was a featured member of the award-winning Whitworth College Jazz Ensemble and the Spokane Jazz Orchestra. In 2000, he was awarded first prize in the bass solo division at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. Eric finished his studies at Portland State University in 2005, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Performance.
As a member of New Orleans Straight Ahead, led by saxophonist Devin Phillips, Eric and fellow bandmates Mark DiFlorio and Andrew Oliver participated in The Rhythm Road, American Music Abroad program under the auspices of the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Jazz at Lincoln Center. In November 2007, they embarked on a month-long tour of five countries in Central and Western Africa not regularly visited by American musicians. The band was invited to return to play the Saint-Louis Jazz Festival in Senegal in May 2012.
Eric returned to his musical beginnings when he started collaborating with McMinnville, Oregon based folk band Skybound Blue, founded by Matt and Jen Behnke. The husband and wife duo is influenced by elements of bluegrass, folk, singer-songwriter, and rock; and they found their definitive sound when they expanded to include Eric in 2014. Skybound Blue is currently in the studio recording their third album, with Eric actively contributing with songwriting and arranging.
In 2015, Eric became a member of the Portland based trio All 4 Naught, featured alongside founder & pianist Darrell Grant and drummer Tyson Stubelek. All 4 Naught specializes in straight-ahead and unconventional jazz arrangements of the popular music of today.
Currently, Eric is highly sought after among Portland jazz professionals and is also gaining national recognition. He is often seen performing with various notable Northwest musicians including Darrell Grant, Devin Phillips, Marilyn Keller and Dmitri Matheny; as well as playing frequently throughout Oregon and Washington with Skybound Blue. He is frequently recognized for his harmonically innovative solos, driving rhythms, and superb sense of time.
"...provides a rock solid acoustic pulse and captivating, narrative solos"
"Man, you swingin!"
"...sweeping and energetic and completely captivating. He has been favorably compared to Christian McBride"
Travis Rogers -- The Jazz Owl