Second Nature – The Santa Fe Jazz Piano Trios
John immersed himself in Leimert Park (the center of African-American arts in LA), which was brimming with poets, artists and musicians. This community has had a major influence on his musical direction and worldview.
Since moving to Santa Fe in 2005, John has composed a Solar Concerto for Chamber Orchestra, recorded Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 & 2, composed music for film and audio books, and produced numerous audio CDs. He has won 15 New Mexico Music Awards for music production, and he also started The Tribute Trio to focus on the works of legendary jazz piano icons.
Some of John’s performance highlights include INNtöne Jazz Festival in Austria, Carnegie Hall, Royce Hall, the Gene Harris Jazz Festival, the Playboy Jazz Festival, Central Avenue Jazz Festival in LA, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London and the North Sea Jazz Festival. He has performed with Nat Adderley, Ravi Coltrane, Dave Grusin, Sam Rivers, Marcus Printup, Billy Higgins and many others.
Plato stated that music is a moral law. I like to extend that notion freely, understanding music to be a template of the universe. Great masters, like Bach, have been the Galileos whose genius divined the mysteries and structure of that universe, leaving us beautiful star charts. Other masters, like Coltrane, have had still other great insights through more free, less-charted discovery. I think the piano is far and away the best ship to explore this universe, but surely the hardest to master fully. In nearly 50 years of effort to do so, I have barely left the ground. But even a few inches up, every weightless moment has been bliss.
Bert is currently music director of the National Dance Institute of New Mexico and is a jazz educator at New Mexico School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble. He has appeared at major jazz festivals in Telluride, Sedona, Santa Fe, Aspen, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia.
He has received numerous New Mexico Music Industry awards for his recordings, and his Latin group, Yoboso, won the 1996 BET (Black Entertainment Television) Jazz Discovery Competition. Bert is the recipient of the 2013 Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
I found this professor and told him of my interest in jazz. He shared with me in a short time a voluminous amount of information about jazz piano. He was my introduction to Bill Evans, and I occasionally sat in with him on gigs.
After I had been studying with another teacher for many years, one day he said it was time to go out and play—no more lessons for now. He knew a bassist who would come and play with me so I could learn to play with an ensemble, not just as a soloist. A great teacher, he eventually introduced me to a bandleader who was looking for a piano player, and I started playing publicly.
After a long run with this quintet, I was invited to play in the trio The Three Faces of Jazz. We have played together for about 20 years, 15 of which have been at El Meson Restaurant in Santa Fe, where you can find us every Friday night.
Today, many people whom I respect consider Jameson to be one of the great geniuses of the 20th century. For me, a son of college professors, his was a new kind of intelligence that trumped what I thought I knew. I loved the simplicity of it, the directness, the tonality, the vibe and especially the rhythm. It seemed to sum up in under four minutes what was happening in our country, the world, music, and my life.
That bass track, which Jameson apparently spontaneously composed lying on the studio floor, too sick to stand up, is constructed like a Debussy miniature: the first measure is a microcosm of the whole.
Looking back, I realize that it might have been in that moment that I was inspired to pick up my brother’s bass. After that I went to music school and got into jazz and Middle Eastern, Indian, Afro-Caribbean and new (avant-garde legit) music.
My brother came back from Nam, thank God.
Along with pursuing his passion to play drums and studying at Drum City in Hollywood, David was a weekly attendant at Shelley’s Manne-Hole, a local jazz club. There he was raised on the live sounds of Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Yusef Lateef, Wes Montgomery and Cannonball Adderly, as well as the great drummer Shelley Manne and his men.
David’s greatest drumming influences are Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Buddy Rich and Bill Douglass, his drum teacher, who was Art Tatum’s drummer. He has studied music in college, as well as privately with Douglass and with Bobby Hutcherson on vibes.
David has a passion for teaching, has written three instructional drum books and is a published author. He also loves playing vibes and writing and arranging vibes pieces. His Latin group, Shades of Tjader, honors and plays some of the classic compositions of the late great vibraphonist Cal Tjader