Kevin Tyrone Eubanks (born November 15, 1957 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American jazz guitarist who was the leader of the Tonight Show Band with host Jay Leno from 1995 to May 28,2010. He also led The Primetime Band on the short-lived Jay Leno Show.
He composed The Tonight Show with Jay Leno's closing theme music, "Kevin's Country," in 1992.
When NBC moved Leno's show from late night to primetime (10PM in the Eastern time zone), Eubanks moved with the band to continue conducting the music for the new version of Leno's show. Eubanks appeared on the new show as the Primetime Band. It was announced on February 16, 2010 that Eubanks would only be returning for a short time as band leader when Jay Leno begins his second tenure on The Tonight Show. On April 12, 2010, Eubanks announced on the show that he would be leaving The Tonight Show following its 18th season. His last show was on Friday, May 28, 2010.
Eubanks was born into a musical family. His mother, Vera Eubanks, is a gospel and classical pianist and organist. His uncle, Ray Bryant, is a jazz pianist. His older brother, Robin Eubanks, is a trombonist, and his younger brother Duane Eubanks is a trumpeter. Two cousins are also musicians, the late bassist David Eubanks and the pianist Charles Eubanks. Kevin studied violin and trumpet before settling on the guitar.
He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and then moved to New York to begin his professional career. There he played with noted jazzmen such as Art Blakey (1980-81), Roy Haynes, Slide Hampton and Sam Rivers. Like his brother Robin, he has played on record with world renowned double bassist Dave Holland. While continuing to play with others, in 1983 he formed his own quartet playing gigs in Jordan, Pakistan and India on a tour sponsored by the United States State Department.
His first recording as a leader, Guitarist, was released on the Elektra label when Eubanks was 25 years old. It led to a seven-album contract with the GRP label and four albums for Blue Note. In total, Eubanks has appeared on over 100 albums. In 2001, he founded the label Insoul Music on which he has released six albums.
Eubanks has taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada, at Rutgers University, and at the Charlie Parker School in Perugia, Italy. In 2005, Eubanks received an honorary doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music, of which he is an alumnus, but not a graduate. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and has served as an active member of the Artistic Advisory Panel of the BMI Foundation since 1999.
Eubanks' guitar style owes much to early influences including (musician) John McLaughlin, a combination of sophisticated harmonic vocabulary and explosive fingerstyle technique. Eubanks' discography includes a wide spectrum of styles from GRP styled smooth jazz to avant garde acoustic to straight ahead trio to newer electric fusion.
In 1992 Eubanks moved to the West Coast to assume the guitar spot in the Tonight Show Band. In 1995, he replaced Branford Marsalis to become the band's new leader.
Eubanks has appeared on various TV shows such as Hollywood Squares, V.I.P., Girlfriends, Longshot and Days of our Lives. He has written four feature film scores.
His touring band currently features Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums and Bill Pierce on sax.
Eubanks is a vegetarian and an avid fan of Philadelphia sports teams. In 2007, he was voted PETA's "World's Sexiest Vegetarian Man."
On his website Eubanks states his preference for Abe Rivera guitars, Mesa/Boogie amplifiers and D'Addario guitar strings.
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - Live at Montreux and Northsea (1980)
Guitarist (1982, Wounded Bird Records)
Sundance (1984, GRP Records)
Oliver Lake Quintet - Expandable Language (1985)
Opening Night (1985, GRP)
Face to Face (1986, GRP)
Heat of Heat (1987, GRP)
Shadow Prophets (1988, GRP)
Dave Holland Quartet - Extensions (1989, ECM Records)
Promise of Tomorrow (1990, GRP)
Kirk Lightsey Trio - From Kirk to Nat (1991)
The Searcher (1989, GRP)
The Best of Kevin Eubanks (1996, GRP)
Turning Point (1992, Blue Note Records)
Spirit Talk (1993, Blue Note)
Spirit Talk 2 (1994, Blue Note)
Mino Cinelu, Kevin Eubanks, Dave Holland - World Trio (1995, Intuition Records)
Live at Bradley’s (1996, Blue Note)
Live (2001, Insoul Music)
Shrine (2002, Insoul Music)
Angel (2003, Insoul Music)
Slow Freight (2003, Insoul Music)
Genesis (2003, Insoul Music)
Soweto Sun (2006, Insoul Music)