Piano love, NYC edition

Under-sung, mid-career jazz pianists of innovative distinction in New York City — the topic of my new column in City Arts – New York’s Review of Culture — considerations prompted by David Hajdu‘s NYT magazine feature on Fred Hersch. Who’d I leave out?

Here I’ve looked back at the magnificant piano legacy of Manhattan + boroughs, and noted that Matt Shipp, Geri Allen, Armen Donelian, Connie Crothers, Frank Kimbrough and Arturo O’Farrill are well worth hearing (as well as Hersch and others mentioned in Hajdu’s piece: Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, Brad Meldau, Robert Glasper, Ethan Iverson).

And I refer without much detail to Craig Taborn, Marc Cary, Cyrus Chestnut, Steve Colson, Bill Charlap, Jason Lindner, John Blum. But I didn’t mention some worthy players who I’ve written press bios or liner notes for, or just didn’t fit in that column — so here with full disclosure I can sincerely recommend the music of —
  • Billy Lester, a fascinating improviser among those partaking of the Lennie Tristano and Sal Mosca lineage — performing tomorrow Sun Feb 28 in alto saxophonist Gary Levy’s quartet at 5C (Ave. C and 5th St., East Village) — 8 to 11 pm, $10; 
  • Daniel Kelly, classically-trained and jazz-inspired (but not limited by either), who performs an improvised piano suite at the Stone, (Ave. C and 2nd St) 8 p.m., March 15 (also $10);
  • Eli Yamin, notoriously upbeat and a recent workshop leader on “The Blues is the Roots and Everything Else is the Roots,” presents “jazz and blues for kids,” a benefit for the Bank Street Family Center, with vocalist Meryl Zimmerman, March 6 at Tabas auditorium, Bank St. College, 610 W. 112th St., $5 kids and $10 adults, 10:45 -11:30 pm it says in the email I got but you’d better check by calling 212-875-4412;
  • Michael Wolff, a genuine hipster, with his trio at the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill, 33 University Place, on March 5 and 6, 12 and 13, 19th and 20, starting at 9:45 pm
  • Jonathan Baptiste, young N’Orleansian verging on huge discovery, at the Blue Note on 3rd St. near 6th Ave., March 9 – 14 (hmmm seems to be booked on the 10th at NJPAC, too, how’s that gonna work?) 
  • Antonio Ciacca, director of jazz programming at Jazz at Lincoln Center, premieres his new cd Lagos Blues with a quintet featuring saxophonist Grant Stewart and vibist Joe Locke at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center facilities, Columbus Circle, 7:30 and 9:30, March 15
  • Andrew Bemkey, in Billy Bang’s quartet at Sista’s Place, 456 Nostrand Ave at Jefferson, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, April 24 (details tba)
  • Elio Villafranca (on tour of Italy w/Francesco Mela and Cuban Safari this month, next in NYC with Pleneros de la 21 at the American Museum of Natural History, March 20 and 21,  11:30 am to 12:30 pm. 
And I know there are many more. What is it about pianos? Soooo many keys. . . 

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  1. says

    I would add Marc Copland, Kirk Nurock, Carlton Holmes, Kenny Drew, Jr., and Renee Rosnes to that list, to name only a few.
    HM: The list of pianists is nearly endless: Dannie Mixon, Kenny Werner . . .