Gary Meek was born in 1961 in Encino, California. His father played piano recreationally. Meek attended El Camino Real High School, where he was active in the music department on clarinet, saxophones and keyboard. After high school he enrolled in the Dick Grove School of Music Professional Instrumental Program.
Meek began his career in the early 1980s playing woodwinds in the big bands of the Los Angeles Jazz Workshop, and keyboards and woodwinds for local club dates, weddings and private parties. In the mid-’80s he toured with Dionne Warwick, playing keyboards.
In 1987, Meek began a two-decade association with Brazilian jazz artists Airto Moreira and Flora Purim. In 1990, joined by Jose Neto, they formed Fourth World. This band toured the U.S., Europe, Asia, South Africa and Eastern Europe for five years, releasing a live album in 1992, Live at Ronnie Scott’s. Three years later, Meek joined Herb Alpert’s world tour in support of Alpert’s Second Wind album. The following year, Meek toured the U.S. and Europe playing saxes, flute and keyboards for Al Jarreau.
Meek’s first album as a leader and saxophonist, 1991’s Gary Meek, comprises 11 songs all written or co-written by Meek. He has released four other solo projects to date, including Time One, Live at Ronnie Scott’s, Good Friends and Step 7.
Through the 1990s and early 2000s, Meek began several enduring collaborations, some with artists who contributed session work for his solo efforts. After keyboardist Jeff Lorber appeared on Gary Meek, Meek played for several Lorber albums, including the Billboard Top 5 West Side Stories in 1994. Meek’s first studio work for bassist Brian Bromberg, on 1997’s You Know That Feeling, led to several tours and albums including Downright Upright, nominated for the “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” Grammy in 2007.
In 2000, Meek played saxophone for Warning, the sixth studio album by the American punk rock band Green Day. Warning reached No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA.
In 2003, Meek played woodwinds for the album Playful Heart by guitarist and bossa nova pioneer Oscar Castro-Neves. The release, named one of that year’s best albums by DownBeat, included an arrangement of “Four Brothers” that Castro-Neves wrote to feature Meek on all the woodwind parts. Meek was later featured on Castro-Neves’ 2006 album, All One.
In 2002, Meek collaborated for the first time with drummer Dave Weckl for the Dave Weckl Band album, Live (and Very Plugged In) and a subsequent world tour. He also played with Weckl for 2005’s Multiplicity, and with Weckl and keyboardist Jay Oliver for Convergence in 2012.
In 2015, the Dave Weckl Acoustic Band released its debut CD, Of the Same Mind, touring behind it in Europe, Asia and the U.S. Acoustic band personnel include Weckl, Meek, keyboardist Makoto Ozone and bassist Tom Kennedy.
In September of 2017 Meek released Originals – his first solo release in 15 years. The CD features Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); Brian Bromberg (acoustic bass): Mitchel Forman (piano); Randy Brecker (trumpet/flugelhorn); and Bruce Forman (guitar) on three songs apiece. Michael Lent (guitar) and Airto Moriera (percussion) appeared on “Suite for Maureen.” Meek has had CD release gigs in both Los Angeles and Monterey.
Meek lives with his wife, Maureen, in the Monterey, California area, where he teaches privately, sharing methods passed on to him by Phil Sobel, his teacher of more than 25 years. Meek collaborates globally through Internet recording sessions, and travels to Los Angeles for session work. He plays Cannonball saxophones and d’Addario reeds and mouthpieces.