What’s Hot With Jazz Guitar: Mark Kleinhaut

by Doc Dosco

This week we feature the very talented New England jazz guitarist Mark Kleinhaut. I have to hand it to Mark… he has managed to keep the flame of music alive and release numerous CDs while juggling another career. This should be an inspiration to all guitarists working a 9 to 5 job that you can play and record jazz, and feed a family too!

Online Bio

Mark Kleinhaut has been playing jazz guitar for nearly thirty years during which time he has developed a highly personal sound and recognizable voice on his instrument. His preference for clean guitar tones first recalls the great tradition of mainstream jazz guitarists like a Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino, but listeners soon detect something else in Kleinhaut’s highly evolved vocabulary. His playing avoids the clichés and trappings of the too-familiar jazz jargon in favor of melodic phrases that twist and leap passionately with the immediacy of the moment, yet follow his relentless pursuit of logic, balance and beauty. Mark Kleinhaut is also a prolific jazz composer and has released four CDs of all original jazz compositions, including “Chasing Tales” with trumpeter Tiger Okoshi and “A Balance of Light”, with Bobby Watson.

After completing his formal music studies at Rutgers University (B.A.1979) under the direction of the late Ted Dunbar, Kleinhaut eschewed the typical path to establishing himself as a jazz musician. He did not move to NYC as a young player and try to break into the jazz community. That, he felt would require him to make musical and developmental sacrifices. Instead he pursued a solitary path, taking a day job in a non-music related field-banking (like his mentor Ted Dunbar, who was a pharmacist). While working on his career in the financial industry, Kleinhaut continued to pursue his musical artistry by maintaining rigorous practice and gigging schedules, working steadily to develop his own voice and musical ideas. This lifestyle is not as isolating as it might appear, Mark maintains connections with the jazz world through trips to NYC where he jams with jazz guitarists like Jack Wilkins and Bruce Saunders. Back home, as president of the Maine Jazz Alliance (a non-profit jazz support and advocacy group) Mark has been instrumental in bringing a long list of jazz luminaries to Southern Maine. One of the of perks of his association with MJA has been the opportunity to sit in or jam with the likes of Jackie King, Howard Alden and Vic Juris. Mark’s musical commitment ultimately evolved to still deeper collaborations with Tiger Okoshi and Bobby Watson, leading to concerts and recording projects, establishing a trend that will undoubtedly continue.

Mark Kleinhaut has appeared in concerts with nationally recognized jazz artists such as Bobby Watson, Tiger Okoshi, Jerry Bergonzi, Brad Terry, and Alex Foster and also performs regularly with many top local and regional jazz musicians. As leader of the Mark Kleinhaut Trio, he has performed his repertoire of original jazz compositions in a wide variety of venues and concert series ranging from the Key Maine Jazz Festival in Portland Maine to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. In 2002, his Trio made its first European visit with a six-city tour of Germany and the Netherlands.

Not only is Kleinhaut a well-established professional in financial circles and an accomplished guitarist and composer, he also teaches privately, was adjunct faculty at University of Southern Maine, and has recently started conducting clinics and workshops at Universities and High Schools, including Bowdoin College and the University of Maine. In addition, Mark uses his business acumen for the betterment of jazz in his community, serving as President of the Maine Jazz Alliance, a member of the University of Southern Maine’s School of Music advisory board, and has served on the boards of the Maine Jazz Festival and the Maine Jazz Camp.

Kleinhaut’s wife, Erika Aberg, runs Invisible Music, a small indie label that focuses on the work of jazz artists of northern New England. The label’s catalog, which now features over 30 titles by 20 artist/leaders, represents a wide diversity of styles within jazz, yet brings out the predominantly modern acoustic qualities favored in this region. Aberg’s background in recording and mastering engineering assures a meticulous attention to detail and a consistently high level of production standards.

Check out Mark’s website with sound clips and CDs for sale:


Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the ‘What’s Hot with Jazz Guitar’ columns, audio clips of Doc’s playing, and many additional features. Doc endorse Heritage Guitars and is a featured artist on their website. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps — great for jazz (and anything else!)

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