Damjan Grbac was born in 1979 in Rijeka. He developed an interest in music at the age of 12, when he started playing clarinet in the Music Society “Spinčići” in Kastav. At 16 he switched his focus to the bass guitar and started playing professionally in 2000. In 2005 he chose double bass as his main instrument. He attended lessons with acclaimed musicians from around the world. Damjan gained further experience by attending Jazz Camp Kranj. After enrolling in the Conservatorio Giuseppe Tartini in Trieste, he earned his Master’s degree in double bass with magna cum laude under Giovanni Maier.
Grbac served a term as the president of Music Society “Spinčići”, with whom he organized and produced many festivals and concerts around Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Poland and Netherlands. From 1999 to 2008 he organized the International Festival of Wind Orchestras in Kastav, which attracted more than 150 participants each year.
He has been a part time professor in Matko Brajša Rašan Art School since 2015.
Since 2012 he has been the artistic director of the festival JazzTime Rijeka, one of the oldest Croatian jazz festivals and thus collaborated with numerous acclaimed musicians around the world. He is an active artist, composer and educator.
Among others he founded or participated in the following projects:
⦁ founder of the world music project “GIIPUJA” which spawned four CD-s (GIIPUJA, Gerbaz GIIPUJA, Forest GIIPUJA i GIIPUJA, Ćo!) – a fusion of jazz and Istrian traditional music (Damjan Grbac – double bass, Andreas Marinello – saxophones, Dario Marušić – sopela, Aldo Foško – bass clarinet, Klaus Gesing – bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, Marko First – sopela, violin and ocarina, Tonči Grabušić – drums, percussion)
⦁ member of SpartJazz jazz project led by Spartaco Črnjarić
⦁ member of Jed Becker’s Group, blues band led by Emir Grozdanić. In 2020 they released an album with original compositions, “Lonely Tiger”
⦁ With Elvis Stanić Group he toured China twice in 2017 as a part of the project China Central and Eastern European Countries (China-CEEC) Cultural Season. Moreover, they appeared on numerous festivals in Croatia, such as Liburnia Jazz Festival, JazzTime Rijeka festival, Slavonski brod, Osorske glazbene večeri, Hvar, Cres, Sisak, River jazz fest Županja, Jazz u Lapidariju Poreč, Jazz is back Grožnjan and others.
⦁ Again under direction of Elvis Stanić, he contributed to his project ExTempore on two occasions (2015, 2020).
⦁ In July 2012 he participated in a project that presented Ancient Greek music in jazz arrangements, produced by the Conservatorio Giuseppe Tartini, which led to concerts in Tricesimo (ITA) and Athens (GR), in which he represented Croatia.
As a music educator he gave lectures in several courses in Gorizia (ITA), Matulji, Kastav and Vrbnik.
His main artistic project is GIIPUJA, which synergizes jazz and traditional music of the Istra region. Along with four CD-s, which included jazz arrangements of traditional songs and original compositions inspired by the Istrian traditional music, the quartet made noted appearances on every major jazz event in Croatia, including the 23rd edition of Jazz.hr Spring, Gornja Stubica Festival, Kastafsko kulturno leto in Kastav, Last Minute Jazz Festival in Bale, Jazz in Lap in Poreč, Ethno Jazz Festival in Karlovac, Festival JazzTime Rijeka, All around GIIPUJA during the European Capital of Culture – Rijeka 2020 and many others. The project was featured several times on the Croatian National Television.