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Piano Spotlight: Willie “The Lion” Smith

William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff Smith was born on November 23, 1893, in Goshen, New York, to a diverse and talented family. His grandmother, Ann Oliver, had performed in minstrel shows as a banjo player, and two of his cousins were dancers in similar productions. His mother was an organist; his uncle was a bass [...]

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Piano Spotlight: Nat King Cole

  Although he is remembered as one of the most loved pop vocalists in history, many forget that Nat King Cole began his career as a notable jazz pianist. Life Nathaniel Adams Cole was born on March 17, 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama. He came from very musical family, with three brothers and one half sister. Cole [...]

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Piano Spotlight: Jamie Cullum

Life Jamie Cullum was born in Essex, England on August 20, 1979. He was interested in music as a child, but didn’t really dig into piano study until high school. Jamie continued his studies, performing and writing until college. He turned down a spot at Oxford to study Literature at the University of Reading, where [...]

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Piano Spotlight: Dr. John

Dr. John is a true embodiment of the spirit of New Orleans music. Life Malcolm Rebennack was born in New Orleans on November 21, 1940. His father owned a record shop, so at an early age Malcolm was exposed to the music of New Orleans’ greats like Professor Longhair and Louis Armstrong. His grandfather was [...]

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Piano Spotlight: Brad Mehldau

Life Bradford Mehldau was born on August 23, 1970 in Jacksonville, Florida and moved to Connecticut with his family when he was young. Brad played piano from an early age, becoming involved with his high school’s jazz program, studying both jazz and classical music. While Brad was still in high school, he won Berklee College [...]

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Piano Spotlight: Ahmad Jamal

Life Frederick Russell Jones was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 2, 1930. Frederick began playing piano at age three when his uncle Lawrence challenged him to recreate what he was playing. Soon after, he began taking private lessons; he described his early years of instruction as a time of being greatly influenced by many [...]

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Piano Spotlight: Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck was one of the first pioneers and innovators of west coast “cool” jazz. Life David Warren Brubeck was born on December 6, 1920 in Concord, California. His father Peter was a cattle rancher.  Brubeck’s mother Elizabeth was a pianist who had intentions of being a concert pianist; after studying music in England under [...]

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Piano Spotlight: McCoy Tyner

Life Alfred McCoy Tyner was born in Philadelphia on December 11, 1938. Both of his parents were very supportive of him pursuing music, and put McCoy in lessons when he was 13. He was heavily influenced by a close neighbor, But Powell, and after only a few years music had become the single focus of [...]

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Piano Spotlight: Chick Corea

Chick Corea helped create electric jazz fusion, and many of his compositions are considered standards today. Life Armando Anthony Corea was born June 12, 1941 in Chelsea Massachusetts. His father was a jazz trumpeter who played in the Boston area through the 30′s and 40′s. Corea began playing piano at the young age of four,and [...]

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Piano Spotlight: Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington is considered one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. Life Edward Kennedy Ellington, son of two pianists James and Daisy Ellington, was born on April 29, 1899 in Washington D.C. Growing up in a very musical home, Ellington began playing piano at the age of seven. Ellington’s mother surrounded him [...]

          February 8, 2014