Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Eckoff, Burt, pianist, composer; b. Providence, RI, 5 August 1942. His older brother played piano and his father played violin. Studied piano from age 5-10 with Ms. Helen Whitney. He became interested in the electric guitar as a teenager, and from age 16-19 played guitar with a local rhythm and blues group at the Celebrity Club in Providence. After hearing Bud Powell, Horace Silver, and Red Garland, he returned to the piano. Burt moved to Boston in 1961, where he played regularly while attending Boston University. In 1963, he settled in New York City where he earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Hunter College.
Between the mid 1960's and 1990's, he played with an impressive list of prominent jazzmen, including Howard McGhee (1966), Maynard Ferguson (1967), Art Blakey (1968), Sonny Stitt (1979), and Archie Shepp (1981-82). He accompanied such outstanding vocalists as Dionne Warwick (1966), The Drifters (1966), Dakota Staton (1974), and Eddie Jefferson (1978). Burt was selected out of 12 finalists to be the pianist for the Jazzmobile 15 piece band which was part of the CETA program (1978-1979). The conductors were Frank Wess, Frank Foster, and Ernie Wilkins.
He has appeared frequently as a soloist and as a leader of his own trio in the New York City area and also in the West Indies. In 1986, Burt began teaching adult literacy for the board of education in New York City. He rejoined Dakota Staton in 1996, and also worked frequently with bassist Ben Tucker in Savannah, GA. Although primarily self-taught, he has studied with Bruce Potterton and legendary Chicago pianist Chris Anderson in the 1970's and 1980's. He also had some informal lessons with Jaki Byard and Cedar Walton.
His first recording as a leader was released in Japan in 1994. In 2001, his CD Ecology was released. Burt also appears on vocalist Kelly Bedwell's CD My Monday Date.
Sewah, Ecology, Convoluted Blues, Bliss Street, For Tadd and Sonny. He has written lyrics to several songs by such artists as Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Milt Jackson.