Eric Vaughn grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he moved at age 7 with his mother and stepfather, a semi-professional musician. When Eric was 9, both he and his stepdad began taking piano lessons from Sal Mosca, the Lennie Tristano disciple noted for his recordings with Lee Konitz, among others. The younger Vaughn continued his studies till he was 14, when basketball became a primary focus.
A basketball scholarship brought Vaughn to the University of San Francisco, but knee injuries thwarted his athletic ambitions. He applied for, and won, a music scholarship, despite having been away from his musical studies for nearly five years. Vaughn went on to earn his Bachelor's degree in music and a Master's in music performance, both from USF. Several years of classical piano lessons during this time "influenced my technique for sure and my ideas as well," he says now. "It's useful for improvising and my chops and reading."
Vaughn spent two years in the early '80s playing in Europe with bassoonist Michael Rabinowitz, another former Mosca student, then moved to Oakland and became part of a circle of avant-garde players that included saxophonists Ghasem Batamutu and Julius Hemphill, trumpeter Rasul Siddik, and bassist James Lewis. In 1985 he moved to Vancouver, BC and remained there for 12 years, performing regularly at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and working a steady club engagement with trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach. He also spent two years in the early '90s touring as a member of former B.B. King bassist Russell Jackson's blues band.
During his years in Seattle (1997-2009), Vaughn played with his own groups and those led by tenor saxophonist Bert Wilson and conga drummer Billy Poindexter (son of Pony Poindexter). He recorded three little-noticed albums -- a solo piano date titled Reflections: Past and Present; the trio session A New Beginning; and The Chaotic World We Live In, on which he overdubbed piano and melodica parts. With Poindexter's quartet, he recorded Live at the Birkshire (2007).