Steve Hancoff's approach parallels Jelly-Roll Morton's notion of 'piano as band.' He translates the complex rhythms and polyphonies of band and piano jazz into the techniques he developed for the guitar...Amazing transcriptions and uncanny technical skills...
(William Schafer, Mississippi Rag)
Steve began playing guitar when he was 13 years old, captivated by the folk music craze of the 1960's. Within a year he was performing in coffee houses around Baltimore and Washington, DC.
Steve began transcribing Scott Joplin's classic piano rags for the guitar when he was 23. Two years later, he attended his first ragtime festival in Joplin's hometown, Sedalia, Missouri. For the thrill of performing at the original Maple Leaf Club, he entered the competition there. Unaware of the uniqueness of his style, he was astonished when he won. This instantly attracted the attention and encouragement of Eubie Blake, Rudi Blesh, Trebor Tichenor, Max Morath and William Bolcom -- the judges and the Who's Who of the ragtime world. It also led to his recording two LP's of classic rags for the Dirty Shame label.
He then put together his first CD, Steel String Guitar. Guitarists and reviewers were unanimously enthusiastic.
Steve Hancoff's CD is a timeless gem.
(Paul Bezanker, Record Collector's Exchange)
...Exceptional technique and arrangements and a delightfully eclectic repertoire, brimming with vitality and grace.
(Mike Joyce, Washington Post)
If you are a confirmed guitar nut, the whole CD ought to sweep you away.
(William Schafer, The Mississippi Rag)
Getting into authentic New Orleans jazz was Steve's next musical step. It was the chance of a lifetime when music historian and producer Al Rose invited him to New Orleans. There, Al introduced him to the legendary musicians who were present at the birth of jazz and who had actually had a hand in creating it. Steve lived in the French Quarter, playing with and learning from these gracious people. This experience inspired his second CD, New Orleans Guitar Solos.
The instrument is the acoustic guitar, and Steve Hancoff proves there is no limit to what can be done with it in the hands of a master.
(Warren Vache', Jersey Jazz)
His playing is often so full and rich that one may have the impression that more than one guitar is playing.
(Steve Pistorius, The Second Line)
` Guitarists will be amazed...an important recording.
(Fact Sheet Five)
One of Steve's typical concert programs might include a Sousa march, a Joplin rag, a Morton stomp, a bouquet of New Orleans jazz, a medley of Tin Pan Alley hits from the 1920's, James P. Johnson Harlem stride, some Duke Ellington, and always some surprises -- often including original compositions and improvisations. Steve is also a storyteller who frames his pieces with engaging, poignant and fascinating historical vignettes.
A brilliant talent and an enthusiastic performer, Hancoff captivated a huge crowd....
(Phillip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner)
...Hancoff's affection for a tune's beauty or vitality was just as evident as his keen ear for detail.
(Mike Joyce, Washington Post)
Steve has performed all over the United States and in Europe and Israel. Since 1993, he has teamed up with banjo great Bud Wachter touring throughout South America, Arabia and South Asia and Africa - more than 30 countries and counting so far -- as an Artistic Ambassador in the Arts America program of the United States Information Agency. And in 2001, he performed all over southern Africa.
One of their concerts is worth 20 of my speeches for creating goodwill for the United States.
(The Honorable Peter Romero, U.S. Ambassador, Quito, Ecuador)
And now DGM Records has released Steve's third CD, Duke Ellington For Solo Guitar,
A wonderful player...a tremendous CD...
(Stephen Grimstead, Memphis Flyer)
...A real player with a real passion...
(Chris Spector, Record Recap)
...An acoustic guitar player on a mission.
(Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times)
(Keith Spore, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
...A master's skill and a musicologist's knowledge...Five on a scale of one to five!
(Tom Schulte, Outsight Reviews)
and Warner BROS Publications issued a book of his arrangements Acoustic Masters: Duke Ellington For Fingerstyle Guitar.
Hancoff's feel for transcribing Ellington's sounds to acoustic guitar is uncanny. (Dave Zowarski, Downbeat Magazine)
The Single Petal Of A Rose, Duke Ellington For Solo Guitar, Volume 2 will be released in Spring, 2004, so that at the end of this project there are 34 transcriptions recorded and published that will span the entire length of Duke Ellington's career, as well as a second book of Ellington transcriptions and a book of jazz solos based on his New Orleans Guitar Solos CD. And he has recently completed a ten city humanitarian concert tour in Israel.
"It has become my life's work to create a serious repertoire where none has existed for the American steel string guitar. The pleasure is in immersing myself in, getting a taste of, the quality of genius that a Bach or an Ellington expresses. For me, that transcends the demands and concerns of the world."
Steven is a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council grant for performance. He not only performs concerts, but also conducts master classes and serves as Artist-In-Residence during which he gives talks about his cross-cultural experiences. He is a Rolfer and Core Energetics psychotherapist, and he is on the faculty of the Core Energetics Institute in New York and Atlanta. He hold a BA degree from St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland, esteemed for its "One Hundred Great Books of the Western World " program, and a Masters degree in clinical social work. He is a practitioner of T'ai Chi Chuan, an avid hiker and an aspiring whitewater river guide.