b. Eric Thomas Felten, 18 September 1964, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Born into a highly musical family, among whom were several professional jazz musicians, a career in music was inevitable. Felten took up the trombone, studying from the age of nine with his grandfather, Lester Felten, who had played trombone in dance bands during the swing era. He earned a degree at Arizona State University, and another at Harvard, before starting work as a journalist in Washington, DC. This was in the summer of 1989 and, meanwhile, he eagerly pursued an alternative career as a jazz musician. He played in various bands in the Washington area before forming his own group at the beginning of 1991. In the course of the next two years, the International Trombone Association named him as Best New Jazz Trombonist and he released his first album for Soul Note Records, on which he was joined by Jimmy Knepper and Joshua Redman, having met the latter while both were students at Harvard. He continued to lead the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra in Washington, gaining considerable critical acclaim for its performances of classic big band music of the swing era. His follow-up album continued his display of appreciation of the music of past masters; the concept for Gratitude was modelled upon the small groups drawn from the Duke Ellington band of the 30s. Once again, for his sidemen he called upon established jazz artists, among them Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, and Bob Mintzer.
Meanwhile, Felten had been showing a talent for singing and in 1998 he sang with his big band during a one-hour show on Black Entertainment Television’s BETonJazz cable network. He has also sung and played with the Bloomington Pops Orchestra in Indiana, and the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. At the end of the 90s, he occasionally played trombone duets with his grandfather, who was then in his nineties. As the mid-80s and onwards popularity of new swing bands demonstrates, Felten is not alone in referring back to music of an age that was over long before he was born. Significantly, he does it with flair, considerable musicality, and with great respect for the originals.