A Cold Call and a Whole Lot More!

By Steve Lyman, Chairman of the Board

About six years ago a cold call from Joel Harrison, APA’s ever enthusiastic CEO and Artistic Director, ultimately led us two years later to Carnegie Hall for the solo performance of one of APA’s Jazz Finalists, Jeremy Siskind.  I wrote about that journey then, A Cold Call and Carnegie Hall, and now I write again after the 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards finale with Sullivan Fortner being named the Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz. A whole lot more has happened since Joel made his first call!

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The “Brothers”

You see Jeremy and Sullivan have a lot in common.  Both are extraordinary musicians, of course, or else they wouldn’t have been chosen to participate in the year-long competition.  But they also share the experience of “Living with the Lymans” during their respective visits to the Heartland as APA Jazz Finalists.  As their host family we learned a lot about Jeremy and Sullivan – Jeremy craves Cheerios in the morning and Sullivan’s taste is for Raisin Bran.  And we learned so much more about what brought them to love the music they play and what drives them to express themselves through their music.  Bottom line is that each of these young men is a pure delight and will always be considered “family” and know that our door is always open to them.  Indeed, these “brothers” have made it a point to take us up on that and regularly wish us well on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other special days.

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The Families

But their real families are something special too.  During the week of the Finals we had the greatest pleasure to spend a lot of time with the Fortner family, Mom, Dad and his two wonderful sisters. The Fortners being from New Orleans, I’m sure that we will get together again as we travel to NOLA to visit the son whose last name is actually the same as ours.

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The Jazz Guys

Speaking of family, the Finalists, Zach, Emmet, Kris, Christian and Sullivan have become family as well.  Their friendship will be lasting. These guys will continue to share their dedication to the music they play, and now will share the APA experience of the competition and community outreach to local high school musicians whose lives they each touched.

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The Host Families

Being a host family for these young men may seem like a daunting burden to some but I think I can speak for all of us – Bob and Toni Bader, Kim Thomas, Christian and Elaine Wolf and Lin Frauenhoff – that we wouldn’t trade our time feeding, transporting, supporting and sometimes acting as fashion consultant – for anything.  It’s not a burden.  It’s an honor.

Sullivan Fortner and Lymans

The Jazz Finals

Finally, a word or two about this year’s Jazz Finals held at the Hilbert Circle Theater to a sold out audience and heard by millions all over the world.  In greeting all who were attending and listening, Mayor Greg Ballard made a point of saying that Indianapolis welcomes everyone!  How true. Grammy Award winner, Dianne Reeves, was spectacular as she was accompanied by each of the guys in their duo performance.  The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra was exceptional and allowed each Finalist to shine.  The judges’ daunting task of selecting the winner from among all of these winners was not to be envied. But choose they did and Sullivan is now the Fellow.  As Sullivan’s host family we’re proud of him as we are also proud of the other superb Finalists.  We’ll be hearing a lot from all of them in the future.

And most of all I’m proud of the American Pianists Association, its amazing staff and its growing list of strong supporters across the country for making this year’s Jazz Fellowship Awards by far the best and most successful competition of its kind in the world.

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The Future

The future is bright as the APA focuses on the future with the Classical Fellowship Awards that will culminate with the announcement of the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow in the Spring of 2017.  I hope you will join me in supporting the APA’s Mission to discover, promote and advance the careers of young American world-class jazz and classical pianists.

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Photography by Mark Sheldon

Get to know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Kris Bowers

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We are pleased to introduce you to KRIS BOWERS, one of the five Finalists for the American Pianists Association’s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services.

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Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Los Angeles.

Are you from a musical family?

Not really. In my immediate family, neither of my parents are musicians, but my little brother does play sax, and is really coming along. Outside of my immediate family, I’ve got a cousin who raps under the name Murs and is pretty well known, and an uncle that sings and used to do a lot of Broadway. But other than that, that’s pretty much it.

What attracted you to the piano/can you play any other instruments? 

My parents, although they’re not musicians, actually decided before I was born that they’d like me to play the piano. So in the beginning, it was chosen for me, but I grew to love it pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, I can’t play anything else. I’ve been trying to teach myself guitar, but it’s incredibly frustrating being new at an instrument all over again! I need to get a bit more diligent with my practicing. I pick it up from time to time, but then get frustrated and stop playing it for weeks. One of these days though…

What age were you when you started to play the piano? 

I was about 4 when my parents put me in Suzuki lessons, and then when I was around 8, I began private lessons.

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How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage? 

I don’t get phased too often. Every now and then for solo piano shows, or some of my early shows as a band leader, I’ll get a bit anxious, but for those, I just take a few deep breaths and pace a lot backstage.

Favorite venue?

Hard to say. In New York, Jazz Standard might be my favorite.

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Biggest musical influence? 

Probably Herbie Hancock. Not only has he heavily influenced my playing, I also admire how he’s excelled in other areas such as film composing, performing/creating other styles of music, and his humanitarian work.

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What is an ordinary day like for you?

When I’m not on tour (which is pretty rare these days), I try to get up pretty early and start my day responding to a few emails, having a good breakfast, and going on a quick run. The rest of the day is most likely spent writing music for some upcoming project and practicing.

When I’m on the road, it’s pretty much the same routine, although I rarely have the chance to practice on tour. I also usually have a handful of days of sleeping very little, followed by a day of sleeping almost an entire day away. Then that cycle repeats.

What type of music do you listen to?

A lot. These days, it’s anything from old blues stuff like Blind Willie McTell and Willie Dixon, to film scores, some old rock like Hendrix or Zeppelin, folk music like Bob Dylan, old R&B and funk like Stevie, MJ, and Earth Wind and Fire, or current artists like James Blake, Laura Mvula, Everything Everything, CHVRCHES, Chance the Rapper, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, St. Vincent, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, etc. I could go on for a while. And I’m still discovering new music every day!

Favorite restaurant(s)?

Just recently, I went to this Italian spot called Sauce in the LES for the first time. It’s definitely one my favorites now.

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Favorite movie(s)?

The Godfather and Coming to America.

Favorite TV show(s)?

Breaking Bad, The Cosby Show, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Favorite color?

These days, black.

Favorite season?

Autumn.

Favorite vacation destination?

Sevilla, Spain

Interesting facts about yourself?

I do a bit of film composing.

I’m lactose intolerant.

Kris Bowers and the other 4 Finalists (Christian Sands, Sullivan Fortner, Emmet Cohen & Zach Lapidus) will return to Indianapolis to perform at The Jazz Kitchen for the Semi-Finals presented by Barnes & Thornburg on Friday, March 27, 2015 and at Hilbert Circle Theatre for the Finals presented by Ice Miller on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

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TICKETS: 317.940.9945 | http://www.americanpianists.org

Get to know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Zach Lapidus

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We are pleased to introduce you to ZACH LAPIDUS, one of the five Finalists for the American Pianists Association’s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services.

Zach Lapidus Piano green tie

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Portland, OR, and grew up in Vancouver, WA until I left for college. Vancouver is a suburb of Portland that lies across both the Oregon state line and Columbia River. This dual-state relationship is fortunate, as it allows me to feel a simultaneous ownership of both grunge and Elliott Smith.

 

Are you from a musical family?

I was very lucky to always be surrounded by music as a child. My father was a banjo and guitar player and had a very large record collection. My mother played piano as a child, and also loved music, so there was always music around the house.

 

What attracted you to the piano/can you play any other instruments?

Both my parents worked a lot when I was younger, and I was lucky enough to have a baby sitter who took piano lessons. She would sometimes practice on my mother’s piano. Although we had a piano in the house, I had never seen or really heard anybody play classical piano before, and I was spellbound. I remember a Telemann minuet and “Knight Rupert” from Schumann’s Album for the Young specifically. I had a tape recorder that my grandparents had let me borrow, and I would record her playing the pieces and listen back to them a lot; I thought it was the coolest thing! I was obsessed with music as a child, and begged my parents for lessons. When I was around seven or eight, my parents thought I was old enough to begin taking lessons, and there I went.

 

I used to play the violin. Until I went to college, I considered it to be my main instrument; even though I still took piano lessons, I saw myself as a violinist through and through until my freshman year of college. I was drawn to the violin as it felt more collaborative than piano, at least as I knew it. I played violin in youth orchestras, in quartets, and in all manner of arrangements. I never played jazz seriously until college so I’d never really played the piano in ensembles — I never knew how much I would love it.

 

I also have an accordion and love to mess around on it, as I love the sound of the instrument.

 

What age were you when you started to play the piano?

I can’t remember exactly when I started playing the piano; I was either seven or eight. I’ve talked to my parents about this and we can’t remember the exact age. What I know for sure is that I didn’t really get serious about the piano until I was 13, and started studying classical piano with two wonderful teachers and pianists: Joanna Hodges and Jon McLaughlin. Until then, I was the type of mercurial student that drives me crazy as a teacher today!

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How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage?

To deal with the pressure of being on stage, I try my best to breathe deeply, relax, and be myself. I go through different periods where it is more difficult or less difficult to be myself when I’m performing. It’s something I try to get a little better at every time I play.

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Favorite venue? 

My favorite venue will probably always be the Chatterbox Jazz Club on Massachusetts Ave in Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s a totally unpretentious dive bar with a great Yamaha upright, great jukebox, the most awesome crew of bartenders, and it is firmly my second home. They also have a great proprietor, David Andrichik, that tries to keep the historic building as intact and as close to its original appearance as possible. It’s a small, cramped space where I’ve witnessed some of the most amazing music I’ve ever heard. It’s long been the place to see the best jazz on a weeknight in Indianapolis. Among many other performers, the great Claude Sifferlen and Frank Glover played there at least once a week for almost twenty years, and many musicians would make pilgrimages to see their amazing duo. There are also a crowd of lovely and often eccentric regulars who come back over and over again to be around the music and their network of Chatterbox-family. I had been lucky enough to play there at least once a week (sometimes twice or three times!) for seven years when I was living in Indianapolis.

 

The bar used to be completely choked in smoke — most of the regulars smoked cigarettes while they drank and listened to the music, and it was a very small space, with the doors almost always closed. It was so notorious for this atmosphere that many musicians would wear separate pairs of clothes when they played there. Although it kept some people out of the bar, I loved this idiosyncrasy.  One of my amplifiers still smells like smoke, even though the bar has been smoke free since 2012! 

 

They mayor signed in a citywide smoking ban into effect back in 2012, and the last night you could legally smoke in a bar happened to fall on the same night as my regular trio gig. This was a very significant judgment for the Chatterbox. I ended the night with “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” and led the bar in a group lighting-up in which nearly the entire audience participated, while a few regulars sang along morosely. Stories and moments like these are why the Chatterbox will always have a wonderful place in my heart as my favorite venue.

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Biggest musical influence?

I can’t single out my greatest musical influence very easily, so I’ll offer a few of the most significant ones.  I’ll begin with jazz musicians, since this is, after all, a jazz competition. To start: Thelonious Monk, for being a true, uncompromising original who grabs my attention from his first note; early Keith Jarrett, for his beautiful tone and phrasing, daring freedom, and unique aesthetic; Herbie Hancock, whose playing with Miles in the 1960’s made me want to be a jazz musician; and Abdullah Ibrahim, who plays only from the heart. Perhaps it goes without saying, because he’s so ubiquitous, but Miles Davis is one of the greatest musical influences on me: Miles Davis’ recordings put you into a mood, instantly — there’s this indescribable poetry in his music, and as cliche as it is, I know no other way to describe it than “magic.” He would not record a tune or play anything unless it had that “magic,” and in that sense he seems to me to be the perfect artist. Also, from the first time I heard him in high school, I’ve always loved Ornette Coleman — from the first moment I heard it, there was some quality that I could instantly relate to, even as someone who wasn’t really a jazz listener at the time. The first time I heard a tape of “The Shape of Jazz to Come” that my teacher let me borrow, I thought: “This is it.”

 

Outside of jazz: Bach, Schumann, Brahms, Takemitsu, Ravel, Francois Couperin, Stravinsky, Bartok, Morton Feldman, Nobukazu Takemura, Tim Hecker, Christian Fennesz, The Books, My Bloody Valentine, Deerhoof, the Beatles, Tortoise, Gastr del Sol, David Grubbs, Jim O’Rourke, Hella, and too many others to name!

What is an ordinary day like for you?

An ordinary day usually begins with piano practice and listening to music, and maybe if I’m lucky, a little composition. Around 3 o’clock is when the piano teaching usually begins, and then when the evening rolls around, there may (hopefully) be a gig or performance.

 

What type of music do you listen to?

I listen to everything. I love listening to classical music, jazz, electronic music, rock, experimental music…pretty much everything. I like to have a lot of variety in my listening, and I collect LPs voraciously. I usually go to record stores and buy anything that looks interesting, or get everything that certain trusted friends tell me to get. Jazz makes up less of my listening than most other styles of music — I like to get fresh ideas for the piano from other places.

 

Favorite restaurant(s)? 

I’ve just barely moved to New York so I haven’t been to enough restaurants in the city to name that many here, but I can certainly name my old haunts from Indianapolis! I love Sichuan, a Chinese restaurant in Carmel (ask for the Chinese menu!), Spice Nation, a great Indian restaurant, Yats (get the gumbo!), and Thai Taste, an awesome place that will actually make the food as spicy as you want.

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Favorite movie(s)?

My favorite movie of all time is Stalker, a Russian movie by Andrei Tarkovsky; it’s brilliant and philosophical, chock full of allusions and imagery that reward additional watching, and it may be the most beautiful movie ever shot. You could freeze the screen at any point and it would be one of the most beautiful photographs ever taken. I will never tire of watching it. I also love Kurosawa’s Ran — it has an amazing soundtrack by Toru Takemitsu, as well. I also love The Seventh Seal, Vertigo, Duck Soup, Brazil, and Woody Allen’s What’s Up Tiger Lily.

 

Favorite TV show(s)?

My favorite TV shows of all time are Mystery Science Theater 3000, and The Wire. Nothing could possible dethrone those for me.

 

Favorite color?

My favorite color is green. I’m from the “evergreen state,” come on.

 

Favorite season?

My favorite season is Fall; great things always seem to happen to me in the fall. It’s always a time of new beginnings, and the cool air has an electricity that makes me feel inspired and energized.

 

Favorite vacation destination?

My favorite vacation destination is back home in Vancouver, WA. I miss my family terribly and love seeing them. Other than that, I don’t take too many vacations. Germany would be nice!

 

Interesting facts about yourself?

Despite the fact that I am a dog person, I am the pianist in all of internet feline sensation Lil BUB’s Big Show and her Animal Planet special.
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Zach Lapidus will play the fourth concert of the American Pianists Association‘s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services on Saturday, January 24 at 8 PM at The Jazz Kitchen. This concert is sponsored by Frost Brown ToddZach Lapidus Piano

And, Kris Bowers will play the final Premiere Series concert on Saturday, February 28. This concert is sponsored by The National Bank of Indianapolis.at the piano with polka dot socks

The competition doesn’t stop in February!

All 5 Finalists will return to Indianapolis to perform at The Jazz Kitchen for the Semi-Finals on Friday, March 27, 2015 and at Hilbert Circle Theatre for the Finals presented by Ice Miller on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

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TICKETS: 317.940.9945 | http://www.americanpianists.org

Get to know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Emmet Cohen

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We are pleased to introduce you to EMMET COHEN, one of the five Finalists for the American Pianists Association’s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services.

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Where did you grow up?

I was born in Miami, spent 10 years there and then moved to Montclair, NJ, where I went to middle and high school. I then moved back to Miami to go to University of Miami, and now I’ve lived in NYC for 2 years (and just got a masters from Manhattan School of Music).

Are you from a musical family?

My father’s first cousin played with Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich among others. It’s strange though, I didn’t meet him until I was 17 years old. Good case for genetics.

What attracted you to the piano/can you play any other instruments?

I started playing the piano very young, and always enjoyed it. I play a little bit of all the instruments (as do most jazz musicians).

Clarinet and saxophone the best, and also a little bass, trumpet, and drums. I also study and play Hammond B3 very seriously.

What age were you when you started to play the piano?

I was 3 years old.

Emmet Cohen 3 yrs old

How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage?

I try to use playing/performing as my form of meditation. If I really get to “that place” I feel more comfortable on stage than off.

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Biggest musical influence?

Loads of classical music, and everyone in the jazz idiom from Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Cedar Walton, McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett. I also enjoy funk/r&b — James Brown, Marvin Gaye… anyone soulful, really!

What is an ordinary day like for you?

I have a musical obligation pretty much every day, whether its a rehearsal, performance, random gig, or an educational engagement. I also exercise regularly and love fitness. I have great friends and family and spend as much time as I can with the people I love.

What type of music do you listen to?

I am open and appreciative of anything with a good groove, or intriguing improvisation. That being said, I mostly listen to jazz.

Favorite restaurant(s)? 

I love Asian and Mexican food. On the go in New York City, nothing beats a Thai lunch special or a burrito bowl from Chipotle.

Favorite movie(s)?

Many. I do love “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas” though, or any other Italian mobster movie

Favorite TV show(s)?

Dexter & Breaking Bad. Not too much time for Netflix these days unfortunately.

Favorite season?

Summertime and the livin’s easy.

Favorite vacation destination?

Rio De Janeiro

Interesting facts about yourself?

I’m an expert parallel parker, I’ve never eaten a hot dog or hamburger in my entire life, and I’m an avid baseball fan.

On Saturday, December 6th, Finalist Emmet Cohen will play the 3rd concert of the American Pianists Association‘s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services. This concert is sponsored by KeyBank and will begin at 8 PM at The Jazz Kitchen.

IMG_0679photo credit: Silvie Cheng

Zach Lapidus will play the first concert of 2015 on Saturday, January 24. This concert is sponsored by Frost Brown ToddZach Lapidus Pianophoto credit: John Behringer

And, Kris Bowers will play the final Premiere Series concert on Saturday, February 28. This concert is sponsored by The National Bank of Indianapolis.at the piano with polka dot socks

The competition doesn’t stop in February!

All 5 Finalists will return to Indianapolis to perform at The Jazz Kitchen for the Semi-Finals on Friday, March 27, 2015 and at Hilbert Circle Theatre for the Finals presented by Ice Miller on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

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TICKETS: 317.940.9945 | http://www.americanpianists.org

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: TOBY GILL

Toby supports the American Pianists Association (APA) because she loves music and enjoys attending cultural events. Having played piano quite seriously as a child, she was introduced to APA around 2007 and was drawn to the classical concerts and competitions. On the other hand, her husband, Jeff, studied saxophone at Ball State University and just ended a 12-year stint as a volunteer co-host of the radio show, Jazz Suite,on WFHB in Bloomington, IN. APA offers the best of both worlds to this music-loving couple, and through the organization, they each get to share their favorite musical genres with each other.

Toby Gill

Recently, Toby and Jeff started making monthly donations. These gifts are automatically charged to her credit card every month and have allowed her to increase her support to the organization.

For Indianapolis to be the home of the APA is truly special. The APA provides our community the opportunity to listen to the highest caliber of music performed by amazing pianists from around the nation,” says Toby. “One not only gets to hear great young artists in intimate atmospheres, but also gets to observe and participate in the development of the careers of these artists. This is a very rewarding experience.

Toby also likes some of the special events APA has produced. One her favorite concerts, a recent Grand Encounters with Sean Chen and Dan Tepfer, featured both classical and jazz music. She and her husband both got to enjoy their favorite musical genres in one evening. “Sean and Dan’s concert was unique in that the audience was able to hear Sean beautifully perform familiar classical compositions, and then listen to Dan improvise on the themes. We sat just feet from the piano in the intimate setting of The Jazz Kitchen, and felt fortunate to be part of the American Pianists Association experience. Afterward, we were given the opportunity to mingle with Sean and Dan, as the APA encourages the audience to engage with the musicians. This is always a treat!

Speaking of meeting people, Toby likes to attend Music Matters, the series for donors in private homes that brings music and lectures to small groups of APA supporters. Again, she enjoys the intimacy of the experience along with meeting other people who are as passionate about music as she is.

Finally, Toby likes the outreach APA does through the program, Concerto Curriculum. At a time when the government is pulling funding away from the arts, she feels the work we do in the schools is critical. Toby feels it is important for children to learn the value of the arts and knows that APA accomplishes this by exposing and involving local high school students with Finalists of the classical and jazz competitions.

If you would like information on how to support American Pianists Association through our monthly giving program, please contact Milner Fuller at 317-940-8445 or milner@americanpianists.org.

Get to know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Sullivan Fortner

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We are pleased to introduce you to SULLIVAN FORTNER, one of the five Finalists for the American Pianists Association’s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services.

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Where did you grow up?

I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana

Are you from a musical family?

Yes… My family is filled with singers and a few instrumentalist on both sides.

What attracted you to the piano? 

I had a big crush on the organist at church when I was little, and would imitate her a lot. Then my mom would see me climb on top of the living room TV banging out and conducting the songs we played in church that week. After that she bought me a Fisher Price toy piano, and I was hooked ever since.

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What age were you when you started to play the piano? 

I believe I was 4…

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How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage? 

I’ll say to myself, “Sully, It’s almost over”… Then once it is time to start, I try to zone in on the 1st note I or the other musicians play and go from there.

Favorite venue? 

Probably the Village Vanguard in New York… The sound there is incredible. Also, it has a very rich history.

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Biggest musical influence? 

SO MANY! But if I had to narrow it down to a few institutions, it would be New Orleans culture, The Black Church Experience, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music (MSM), Roy Hargrove and Stefon Harris. These were and still are my teachers and the shoulders I stand on.

What is an ordinary day like for you? 

An ordinary day for me varies from time to time. On a non-touring day, I would wake up late (roughly noon), eat, practice, exercise (maybe), sleep, practice, go out and hang with friends/go listen to music.

What type of music do you listen to?

Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Classical, R&B…. Then there are Classic Movie/Disney Soundtracks. Really all types though.

Favorite Restaurants?

New Orleans Food and Spirit, Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro and Popeyes (haha)

Favorite movie(s)?

Casablanca, Coming to America, Harlem Nights and X-Men

Favorite TV show(s)?

Sanford and Son, The Cosby Show, I Love Lucy and Family Matters

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Favorite color?

Green

Favorite season?

Winter

Favorite vacation destination? 

As long as its a vacation, ANYWHERE!

On Saturday, November 8th, Finalist Sullivan Fortner will play the 2nd concert of the American Pianists Association‘s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services (Christian Sands kicked off the competition in September). This concert (and the following 3 Premiere Series concerts) will begin at 8 PM at The Jazz Kitchen.

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photo credit: Brad Berger 

Then, Emmet Cohen on Saturday, December 6.
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photo credit: Silvie Cheng

Zach Lapidus will play the first concert of 2015 on Saturday, January 24. Zach Lapidus Piano
photo credit: John Behringer

And, Kris Bowers will play the final Premiere Series concert on Saturday, February 28.at the piano with polka dot socks

The competition doesn’t stop in February!

All 5 Finalists will return to Indianapolis to perform at The Jazz Kitchen for the Semi-Finals on Friday, March 27, 2015 and at Hilbert Circle Theatre for the Finals presented by Ice Miller on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

8104254

TICKETS: 317.940.9945 | http://www.americanpianists.org

Get to know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Christian Sands

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Over the next several months, we will be introducing you to each of the 5 Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalists.

Up first, Christian Sands…

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photo credit: Rodney Dabney

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a city called New Haven, CT where I spent most of my childhood. I then moved to the suburban Orange, CT. Not too far from New Haven, about 10 minutes.

2. Are you from a musical family?

I’m from a creative family. My parents played a little music when they were younger (elementary and high school) with standard lessons. Growing up, my parents did many other things as well such as writing, painting, drawing, and photography.

3. What attracted you to the piano?

The piano has always been around my life since I was a child. I grew up with it in the house, in the classroom and on stage so it has always been a huge part of my life. I loved the sound, the feel of the hammers hitting the strings, and the ability to create.

4. What age were you when you started to play the piano?

Since I could walk, I’ve always played the piano however, took formal lessons starting at 4 years old.

Christian Sands

5. How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage?

I enjoy being on stage. It gives me an opportunity to share my thinking and my creativity with new people. It’s a rush, the lights, the crowd.  I’ve been on stage since I was a young child in different settings (symphonies, jazz trios, big bands, funk groups, experimental, etc.) and every time is a new learning experience.

6. Favorite venue?

My favorite venue would have to be a concert hall. I really love the way the piano sings in a concert hall or opera house. Also when in the hall, I love when the audience is intimate with you as if you’re in a small club. When everyone’s on the same page, that’s when music happens.

7. Biggest musical influence?

My biggest musical influence would have to be the musicians of the “Young Lions” generation. People like Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Marcus Roberts, etc. The way they command the stage is astounding and inspiring. They’re coming from the tradition of bringing people into the music, but also moving it forward into new directions.

8. What is an ordinary day like for you?

An ordinary day for me running around doing errands, teaching, practicing, and getting ready for the next performance.

9. What type of music do you listen to?

I listen to as much as I can. Whether it’s Classical music, or electronic house music. From artist like James Brown and Prince to Björk and Bon Jovi. Afro Cuban and Native American folk music to Indian Raga and Arabic prayers. I try to be as well rounded as possible.

10. Favorite restaurant?

My favorite restaurant has to be Havana Central, a Cuban restaurant in New York. The food is great and the atmosphere is as if you’re in Cuba, hints of mambo and salsa playing in the background. Sometimes they bring live bands and people dance for hours. It’s excellent and a must see.

11. Favorite movie?

Favorite movie has to be the 1964 movie, Goldfinger staring Sean Connery. I love all of the James Bond movies, but Goldfinger is my favorite. My second would be Skyfall (2012) with Daniel Craig.

12. Favorite TV show(s)?

I would have to say, when it was on, Breaking Bad. Epic!

13. Favorite color?

Blue.

14. Favorite season?

My favorite season is Fall.

15. Favorite vacation destination?

My favorite vacation destination is a small town called Girard, in Burke County, GA where my grandmother (mother’s mother) lives. It’s hot, but it’s peaceful and full of family and friends. It’s great place to be away from the hustle of the city once in a while and be calmly fishing with uncles or smelling grandma’s cooking.

16. Interesting facts about yourself?

Something interesting? I am somewhat of a synesthete and I used to be able to play the piano upside down.

On Saturday, September 27th, Finalist Christian Sands will kick off the American Pianists Association‘s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services at the first Premiere Series concert of the competition! This concert (and the following 4 Premiere Series concerts) will begin at 8 PM at The Jazz Kitchen.

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Sullivan Fortner will perform on Saturday, November 8.
Sullivan Photo 7
photo credit: Brad Berger 

Then, Emmet Cohen on Saturday, December 6.
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photo credit: Silvie Cheng

Zach Lapidus will play the first concert of 2015 on Saturday, January 24. Zach Lapidus Piano
photo credit: John Behringer

And, Kris Bowers will play the final Premiere Series concert on Saturday, February 28.at the piano with polka dot socks

The competition doesn’t stop in February!

All 5 Finalists will return to Indianapolis to perform at The Jazz Kitchen for the Semi-Finals on Friday, March 27, 2015 and at Hilbert Circle Theatre for the Finals presented by Ice Miller on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

TICKETS: 317.940.9945 | http://www.americanpianists.org