Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Gardner, Jeff, piano, keyboards and composition; b. New York City, 23 October 1953. His ancestors were Jews from Lithuania and the Ukraine and a great-aunt still lives in St. Petersburg. He grew up on the ocean side of Westchester County. His mother was trained as a piano teacher and was interested in jazz. His father was an amateur violinist, folk guitarist and singer. Both of them sang in a madrigals group that met at their house. He began playing classical piano at the age of five or six. He played his first gig at 12. His studies include: classical piano with Ruth Schontal and Ivan Tcherepnin, jazz piano with Hall Overton, Jaki Byard, John Lewis, Don Friedman, and Charlie Banacos.
He moved to Paris in 1977 or '78 to study classical harmony with Nadia Boulanger, and decided to stay, with trips to Cuba, Madagascar, North Africa, and especially Brazil, where he first played at the Monterey Jazz Festival in Rio in 1980, with Clark Terry and Slide Hampton. He spent all of 1981 in Brazil and visited about once a year since. He has performed in Brasil with Wayne Shorter, Hermeto Pascoal, Paulo Moura, Dori Caymmi, Pat Metheny, Helen Merrill, Paulo "Mou" Brasil, Mauricio Einhorn, and Helio Delmiro.
He has played solo concerts for French radio and television and led trios including J.F. Jenny-Clark, Andy McKee, Nene, and Barry Altschul. A highlight of his European career was the piano quartet with Martial Solal, Jaki Byard, and Paul Bley at Le Havre in 1984. He has worked on occasion with Algerian bassist Yousef Boukella since 1984 and added Gnawa (Morrocan ritual) singing to his music. In 1992 he met guitarist Nelson Veras in Paris and asked him to join his group. He toured France in 1995 with Rick Margitza. In 1996, he backed Brazilian singer Lisa Ono on a three-week tour of the three Blue Note clubs in Japan, in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Osaka. In June 1997 he played in Belgium and at the "Jazz a la Plantation" festival in Basse-Pointe, Martinique. He returned to N.Y.C. in July 1997. He has since toured Europe with Rick Margitza and on his own. In 1996 or '97 he took a ten-day workshop in Canada with Chucho Valdes to study Cuban piano.
Other artists with whom he has toured and recorded include Freddie Hubbard, Eddie Harris, Steve Lacy, Gary Peacock, Eddie Gomez, Billy Hart, Norma Winstone, Kenny Wheeler, and David Friesen. He formed the duo "Blind Data" with radio drum player Andrew Schloss. They performed a mix of jazz and new music at the IRCAM in Paris, the Center for Art and Mediatechnology in Germany, as well as in the US. He has also performed classical-jazz fusion with soprano S'Ange Susan Belling. He has also toured extensively with the young Brazilian guitar virtuoso, Nelson Veras (who joined Jeff's band at age 14!). In 1999, Jeff wrote and performed in Sao Caetano do Sul, Brazil, his first concerto for piano and orchestra, "Voltas". In fall 2001 he led a trio including Diego Valdes and Anthony Pinciotti on a State Department supported tour of Colombia, the last concert including a guest appearance by sax player Antonio Arnedo. Jeff Gardner is active in jazz education, giving master classes in many countries. He currently teaches at New York University.
Spirit Call (1984); Continuum (with Eddie Gomez and Billy Hart) (1990); Alchemy (with Gary Peacock) (1991); Bop Top (1992); California Daydream (1992); Sky Dance (1992); Second Home (1994); Noches Habaneras (1998); The Music of Chance (1999); Street Angeles (2001); Grace (with David Friesen) (2002); Abracos (2003); Jazz Preludes (2003)
Dori Caymmi (1982); Steve Lacy Group: Futurities (1986); Lisa Ono: Serenata Carioca (1992); Norma Winstone and Mona Larsen: Freedom Jazz Dance; Rick Margitza: Game of Chance (1997); Jeff Gardner also produced and played keyboards on the Paulo Brasil CD, Esperanca (1992)
Works by Gardner:
JAZZ PIANO: CREATIVE CONCEPTS AND TECHNIQUES (Editions H. Lemoine, Paris, 1997, 500 pages and CD
JAZZ TRANSCRIPTION (co author with Niels Lan Doky) (Advance Music)
Keyboard Magazine - Brazilian Piano Master class Parts 1 & 2
JAZZ PRELUDES (VOL. 1) 1999 (Terramar Music) Piano sheet music, JAZZ PRELUDES (complete) in preparation
Interview with Jeff Gardner by Jacques van Opstal with the assistance of Frederic Conan, May 8, 1997, Le Jazz (online magazine, now defunct)