Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Knight, Dan (Daniel Lee)
Knight, Dan (Daniel Lee), pianist, composer, educator, author; b. Ottumwa, IA, 26 September 1953. His father was John Franklin Knight (1925-2003). His mother was Dorothea L. Knight (1923-1970). His sisters are Sharon Ann (b. 1943) and Susan Louise (Miller) (b. 1957). His brothers are John David Knight (b. 1954) and James Alton Knight (b. 1941).
By the time he was three years old Danny Knight could sing any melody he heard after hearing it once. He began playing keyboard instruments at age four by singing the melodies he knew and matching the pitches on his older sister's chord organ, which he had been forbidden to play. His ability became known to his family when they visited an aunt who owned a piano. As his older sister and cousin attempted to play the "Dragnet" theme on the piano, with no success, Danny walked to the piano and played the theme. Correctly. His parents went home and bought a piano.
His early studies were in the classical tradition. He began piano lessons in 1958, just before his fifth birthday. His teacher was Tillie Maither, a former student of Paderewski. She discovered his interest in jazz after he heard Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" for the first time, when he ran to her house to ask if it was possible to have five counts in a measure. As she lectured him regarding the evils of jazz, he determined to learn to play it on his own. And learn to play it he did.
Knight spent the next few years transcribing every jazz record he could get his hands on. A middle school teacher, Miss Corinne Gilbert, made her personal record collection available to him, and through her he heard many of the jazz masters for the first time: John Coltrane; Dizzy Gillespie; Sonny Rollins; Bill Evans; Billy Taylor; Teddy Wilson; and Art Tatum. In 1988 and 1989 he studied with Dr. Billy Taylor at the University of Massachusetts' summer jazz program. It was then that he decided to make jazz his life's work.
In 1996 Knight was included in the Steinway Artist Roster, joining Dr. Taylor on a roster of many of the finest pianists in the history of music.
Composer, pianist, educator and Steinway Artist Dan Knight has built a worldwide reputation as, according to Claude Nobs, Artistic Director of the Montreux Jazz Festival, "one of the finest solo pianists in the world." Now a protege of jazz legend Dr. Billy Taylor, who himself was a protege of Art Tatum, Knight's personal worldwide "firsts" include an unprecedented three consecutive performances (1997, 1998 and 1999) at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival. No less than saxophone legend Sonny Rollins has said of him simply, "Man, you're great."
Since 1998, Knight has been the Adjunct Professor of Jazz Piano at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa. He has lectured and performed internationally at the Leeds International Jazz Education Conference (2001, 2002), and at Trinity College of Music, London (2002). His musical "heritage" informs his teaching in a fusion of the best of both the classical and the jazz worlds, combining the passion and the technique of Paderewski with the improvisational virtuosity of Art Tatum. As a composer, pianist, and improviser, Knight Knight continues to extend the boundaries of style and composition in his performances of classical music, jazz, and free improvisation.
Dan Knight and the La Fosse Jazz Trio: Live from Studio III (1996); Montreux (1997); Pictures at an Exhibition (1999); Do You Hear What I Hear (1999); Live at Riverside Theatre (2000); From Salisbury House With Love (2001); Small Miracles (2001); Performances: Karrin Allyson, the Fred Wodoard Trio, the Dan Knight Trio (2003)
Radio and television broadcasts:
National Public Radio (US): "The Connection with Christopher Lydon," 2000, "Anthem," with Renee Montagne, 1998, "Weekend Edition," with Wynton Marsalis, 1990; Columbia Broadcast System (CBS) Television: "CBS Sunday Morning," with Dr. Billy Taylor, 1988;
Iowa Public Television: "Studio III Presents" 1995, 1996, 1998 (twice), 2000, 2003
International Press features:
"ASCAP Playback: The magazine of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers," (Fall 1999).
"Le Nouveau Quotidien," Montreux, Switzerland (July 1997).
"Le Nouveau Quotidien," Montreux, Switzerland (July 1998).
"The Jazz Report," (1996).
Dan Knight Enterprises, Inc.
P.O. Box 688
Iowa City, IA 52244-0688 USA
(319) 337-2092 phone
(319) 354-0323 fax