Doug Little is recognized as an elite musician, an exceptional composer, and a noted educator. He has released nine CDs and toured worldwide. Little began his career as a jazz saxophonist but over the past decade has emerged as a top flute soloist and a bandleader for Latin music groups such as Charanga Tropical (salsa) and Seven Steps To Havana (Latin jazz). He has performed with varied artists such Chuchito Valdés, Joe Lovano, and Tiempo Libre.
Little grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota to attend Macalester College. He also studied briefly at Berklee College of Music. He graduated from Macalester with a degree in Political Science and French in 1991.
In 1994 Little co-founded the innovative jazz sextet, Motion Poets. After a much success during seven year run that included 3 CDs and tours to 37 states, Motion Poets disbanded. In 2000 Little began leading his own quartet. He recorded two quartet CDs, collaborated with Italian pianist Giacomo Aula, and later toured with the quartet throughout the United States and Europe.
In 2002 Little was awarded a major research grant to study music in Cuba. He later received grants to return to Cuba in 2005 and 2010. While in Cuba he studied at the National School of Arts in Havana and apprenticed with noted artists such as Jorge Leliebre (Grammy with Los Van Van), Jauquin Oliveros (tours and CDs with Chucho Valdés), David Bencomo (Manolito Simonet), Andres Alén (Arturo Sanduval, Latin Grammy nominations), and Olavo Alén (Cuba's preeminent musicologist).
Little’s effective merging of Cuban music with jazz and other American song forms led to increase notoriety and opportunities. In 2007 he was chosen by the French Ministry of Culture for a three-month artist residency at La Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. In 2008 he was awarded a grant by the Jerome Foundation for two months of travel and study to Brazil.
Little has created several ensembles and compositions that incorporate a strong Latin influence into his work. He was commissioned to compose a four-movement suite for saxophone quartet and Cuban percussion. Since its premiere at the World Saxophone Congress work has since been performed in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. He formed a world music trio with musicians from Cuba and Brazil entitled Tres Mundos (Three Worlds). In 2005 he created the Latin jazz ensemble Seven Steps To Havana. In 2006 he founded Charanga Tropical, the only group in the Midwest playing with the traditional charanga instrumentation of three violins, flute, and full Latin rhythm section. In 2006 Little had an epic year, releasing three CDs and a DVD featuring the various ensembles and music.
Active in education, Little founded and still directs the Twin Cities Jazz Workshop, a summer program that has taught jazz fundamentals to hundreds of students since its inception in 1996. Little has visited hundreds of classrooms for master classes and artist residencies.
For his work as a musician and composer Doug Little has received support and recognition from the American Composers Forum, the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Minneapolis Arts Commission, the McKnight Foundation, and the Bush Foundation. A linguist as well as a creative artist, Little speaks excellent French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian.