January 18 – Joanna Wallfisch with Dan Tepfer

As we say goodbye to 2014 and all the beautiful moments of musical magic you have shared with us this year, we want to thank all the great artists, and our great audience! We wish you all a happy new year and invite you to join us next month for the start of the 2015 Parlor Series!

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Hailed by the great Fred Hersch as “a real discovery—a first-rate musician in every way,” singer-songwriter Joanna Wallfisch has built an impressive profile since her move to New York from London in 2012. She takes a bold step forward in her creative journey with The Origin of Adjustable Things, a stark and expressive duo album with rising piano master Dan Tepfer. In the mysterious poetry of her lyrics, the freshness of his harmonic choices and the expansiveness of their sonic palette, Wallfisch and Tepfer explore a musical universe of their own making. Combining Tepfer’s “exceptional poise” (New York Times) and Joanna’s “sublime voice” (The Telegraph) the duo has been described as “stylish, rapturous and original” (Jazz in London). The Origin of Adjustable Things, comes out on Sunnyside Records—March 3rd, 2015.

Sunday 18 January, Joanna Wallfisch with Dan Tepfer

Doors at 2:30 PM, concert begins at 3:00 PM sharp.

Joanna Wallfisch

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Singer/composer Joanna Wallfisch was born in London to a musical family. She “possesses a crystalline voice” with a “striking command of phrasing” (London Jazz), while her “original compositions tell wonderful, complex and rich stories in song”.(Fred Hersch)

A multi-instrumentalist she plays the ukelele, piano, flute and is skillfully innovative in the art of live vocal looping.

In March 2012, she released her debut recording Wild Swan, featuring saxophonist Sam Newsome and bassist Joe Martin. The album was critically acclaimed by leading publications including London Jazz, All About Jazz, Jazz Wise Magazine, and was featured on BBC Radio3.

Before devoting herself full time to music, Joanna received a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts (Central Saint Martins, London & Beaux-arts de Paris), all the while performing regularly in the UK and in Paris. She then completed a Master’s in Jazz Performance at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, graduating in June 2012.

In September 2012, Joanna moved to New York City, where she has steadily pushed the boundaries of her songwriting, performance and musical projects, strengthening her ties to the New York jazz scene and also forming exciting collaborations with artists in the worlds of circus and dance. Joanna recently auditioned for and was accepted into the casting database of Cirque Du Soleil.

In October 2013 Joanna toured as part of Chorale Le Chateau, a choir under the direction of Grammy Nominated pianist, composer, and singer Damien Sneed, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, performing at world renowned venues including as the Kennedy Center, D.C, Boston Symphony Hall, and Rose Theatre, NYC.

Last summer, 2014, Joanna featured at the Salisbury International Arts and Music Festival with internationally renowned classical and folk violinist Pekka Kuusisto, where they devised an original piece entitled SLEEP.

Joanna also brings her talents to the world of film and commercials, performing vocals on the soundtrack of independent movie All The Beautiful Things, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival, 2014, and also Desert Dancer, starring Freida Pinto, and singing on the score for Lars Von Trier’s Dear Wendy. She also wrote the lyrics for the soundtrack theme song for British movie, Summer in February, starring Dan Stevens, and is currently the voice for Hillshire Farm’s commercial campaign.

Joanna recently completed her latest album – a Duo Record of mostly original songs, with pianist Dan Tepfer. It is to be released by Sunnyside Records March 3rd, 2015.

PREVIEW/REVIEW – by Corinna dFW, classical music critic for the New York Times

“In her thoughtful and dreamy debut album, Joanna Wallfisch offers a collection of
beautifully crafted songs that introduce a poetic writer with an uncommonly versatile voice. Gifted with a razor sharp sense of intonation, she commands an expressive palette that runs from achingly fragile over sensuous and smoky to steely confidence. In Dan Tepfer she has a sensitive partner at the piano who shades the songs with iridescent colors. Their take on Radiohead’s “Creep” is cleverly devious; a cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to a Siren” sweetly haunting. Wallfisch’s own songs are those of a poet observing human nature with patience, empathy and humor and range from the luscious reverie of “Satin Grey” to the quirky wit of “Brighton Beach.”

Dan Tepfer

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One of his generation’s extraordinary talents, Dan Tepfer has made a name for himself as a pianist-composer of wide-ranging ambition, individuality and drive — “a remarkable musician” in the words of the Washington Post and one “who refuses to set himself limits” in those of France’s Télérama. The New York City-based Tepfer, born in 1982 in Paris to American parents, has performed with some of the leading lights in jazz; as a leader, he has crafted a discography already striking for its breadth and depth, ranging from probing solo improvisation and intimate duets to trio albums rich in their melodic allure. Tepfer’s acclaimed Sunnyside/Naïve album Goldberg Variations / Variations saw the pianist performing J.S. Bach’s masterpiece as well as improvising upon it to “build a bridge across centuries and genres” as the Wall Street Journal put it. New York magazine called the album “elegant, thoughtful and thrilling,” while DownBeat declared it “one of the more audacious, accomplished recordings of 2011.”

Tepfer’s newest release is Small Constructions — an album of duets with multi-reed player and Kneebody co-founder Ben Wendel, released on Sunnyside Records in March 2013. A set of songs without words, Small Constructions is a multi-tracked, multi-layered production featuring Tepfer and Wendel playing multiple instruments in multiple styles, extending from fresh versions of Monk tunes to pieces based on Handel and Messiaen motifs, from a standard given an artful makeover to originals that underscore the duo’s melodic flair.

Tepfer, whose mother was an opera singer and grandfather a jazz pianist, began classical piano studies at age 6 at the Paris Conservatoire-Paul Dukas. The young musician took a circuitous route to a jazz career, first earning a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics from Scotland’s University of Edinburgh. He played extensively on the jazz scene in college and even enjoyed a brief stint as an opera conductor. After graduating in 2005 from Boston’s New England Conservatory, where he completed his masters under the guidance of Danilo Perez, Tepfer moved to New York and quickly became an in-demand player, performing with such innovators as Steve Lacy, Paul Motian, Bob Brookmeyer, Joe Lovano, Ralph Towner, Billy Hart and Mark Turner. Tepfer was introduced by Martial Solal, one of his mentors in France, to Lee Konitz. The veteran saxophone luminary and the young pianist hit it off at once, sparking a partnership that would yield duet performances on both sides of the Atlantic and the 2009 Sunnyside album Duos with Lee. Described as “a benchmark of human potential” by Jazz Inside, the Tepfer-Konitz album embodies the notion of jazz as an artistic exchange across the generations, comprising mostly freely improvised pieces.

The Village Voice described Tepfer’s Goldberg Variations / Variations this way: “In a ballsy move that resounds with an unabashed yen for balance, the insightful pianist concocts a freeprov ditty for each of Bach’s most famous miniatures. On the classical side, the 60 tracks are a blend of grace and power. On the jazz side, they’re built with daring and élan. It’s easy to respect both.” The prelude to Tepfer’s Bachian explorations was his solo Twelve Free Improvisations in Twelve Keys (DIZ, 2009), an engaging, absorbing album rooted in some of his earliest musical explorations. Considering the contemplative reveries of this pianist, DownBeat said: “Tepfer has the ability to disappear into the music even as he’s making it.”

Tepfer’s first two trio albums — Oxygen (DIZ, 2007) and Before the Storm (DIZ, 2005) — saw the pianist in league with bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Richie Barshay, longtime confreres with close rapport. Allying high instrumental finish to tight arrangements, the albums ranged from Tepfer’s irresistible, ever-lyrical originals to ingenious versions of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” — and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It was such music-making that led Time Out London to say: “Tepfer is among the most accomplished and imaginative of the new wave of players emerging across the pond. He specializes in a rippling style that builds complex melodic layers of ideas… A piano star.”

For his third trio album — Five Pedals Deep (Sunnyside, 2010) — Tepfer convened a new, galvanizing partnership with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Ted Poor. Whether on originals of great beauty by Tepfer (including some solo interludes) or covers of a Jacques Brel tune and “Body and Soul,” it was the sound of surprise that the pianist was after with this album. According to The New York Times, Tepfer’s Five Pedals Deep “lays out something like a personal manifesto\’85 Mr. Tepfer unfurls his lyricism in great silvery arcs.” All Music Guide described the album as “inventive” and “intense,” while Stereophile simply judged it “beautiful.” All About Jazz singled out Tepfer’s tune “I Was Wonderin’ ” for its brand of playful sophistication, with “its hints of swing, rock, and even classical\’85 there simply to service the nuanced shading of the piece.”

Tepfer’s playing — whether performing with Lee Konitz at the Village Vanguard or leading his trio at the Jazz Standard, going solo with his complete Goldberg Variations / Variations at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge or playing in an all-star Bud Powell tribute at Birdland — is always a mix of the gorgeous and the vivacious, lyricism balanced with swing, freedom with cohesion. The New York Times has called him “a pianist of exceptional poise who is drawn to the deeper currents of melody.”

All-around, Tepfer is “one of the moment’s most adventurous and relevant musicians,” according to New York magazine. He was voted a Best New Artist in JazzTimes in 2010 and a Rising Star in DownBeat in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Among his awards are the first prize and audience prize at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition, first prize at the 2006 East Coast Jazz Festival Competition, and first prize at the 2007 competition of the American Pianists Association. He has been named a Cultural Envoy of the U.S. State Department, with travels to Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Czech Republic. He has also lectured and led master classes from London to Warsaw to Seoul. Tepfer was commissioned by the Prague Castle Guard Orchestra to compose a concerto for symphonic wind band and improvising piano; the kaleidoscopic result, The View from Orohena, had its premiere at the Prague Castle in 2010.

Tepfer will have a new trio album out on Sunnyside in early 2014. The pianist is also going into the studio to record a duo album with bass great Gary Peacock, and in a collaboration further afield, Tepfer is teaming with young singer Yanet Valdes for sessions in Cuba with Bata drums.

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