Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
She was born in Flushing to amateur vocalist Cynthia Piket (b. 1926 in Brooklyn), and published composer Frederick Piket (b. 1903 in Vienna Austria, d. 1974 in Queens, NY). Frederick was a composer as well as a musician. His Curtain Raiser to an American Play was performed by the New York Philharmonic under Dimitri Mitropoulis. He also wrote liturgical music for Jewish services at the Free Synagogue of Flushing, where he was musical director. Her oldest brother, Joe (b. 1956), is a pop/rock keyboardist and guitarist. A middle sibling, Paul (b. 1959), is not involved in music.
She received early training in piano and violin from her father until his death when she was eight years old. Her interest in music was rekindled in her early teens when her brother Joe began briefly studying jazz piano, and played records for her. Throughout high school she studied classical piano with Vera Wels and she studied for a brief period as well with Walter Bishop, Jr., also taking ensemble classes at Drummers' Collective's Rhythm Section Lab with bassist Vishnu Wood. During her senior year in high school she also rehearsed and performed with the Queens College Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Howard Brofsky. Roberta earned a Bachelor of Music from New England Conservatory, while simultaneously matriculated at Tufts University. (1983-1988) While at NEC, Roberta studied piano with Fred Hersch for two and a half years, Jim McNeely for a semester, and Stanley Cowell for a year while also studying rhythmic concepts with Bob Moses. She also participated in student ensembles instructed by George Russell, George Garzone, Jimmy Giuffre, John McNeil, Chris Washburne and Miroslav Vitous. In Feb. 1985, she participated in a workshop at Tufts led by guest Dizzy Gillespie, who sat with her after the workshop showing her his rhythmic concepts.
Fresh out of college, Roberta landed a job as a computer engineer at Digital Equipment near Boston. Piket left Digital after one year to pursue jazz full-time. In 1989 Roberta returned to NY, and studied improvisation and composition for several years with pianist Richie Beirach. (In 1995 she received an NEA study grant for this purpose). Roberta placed second in the 1993 International Thelonious Monk-BMI Composers' Competition. In 1997 she released her first CD as a leader on the Criss Cross label ("Unbroken Line"). Roberta is the first and only woman leader with a release on Criss Cross.
Performances with her band include a 1994 stint as opening act for Diane Schuur at the Celebrate Brooklyn Performing Arts Festival and at Jazz Live! from Flushing Town Hall. The Bayside Times called the performance "an epiphany and a delight." Roberta has also appeared as a leader at New York City venues such as Smalls, Metronome and the Knitting Factory, and as a sidewoman at the Blue Note, the Village Gate, the Hollywood Bowl at the Playboy Jazz Festival and the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Roberta also played solo and in duo with Marian McPartland in concert at the Eastman School of Music in 2001.
Roberta has played professionally as a sidewoman with David Liebman, Rufus Reid, Michael Formanek, Lionel Hampton, Mickey Roker, Billy Mintz, Harvey Wainapel, Eliot Zigmund, Benny Golson and the BMI/NY Jazz Orchestra and has twice been a featured guest on /Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz,/ on National Public Radio (1994 and 2001). Until leaving to pursue other projects, Roberta held the piano chair with the all-female big band, Diva, from 1995 to 1997.
The Roberta Piket Trio has toured Japan (performing twelve nights at the Blue Note Club in Fukuoka) and Spain as well as the U.S. Roberta has also performed her music at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and all over New York, including the Texaco-New York Jazz Festival, Smalls, the Blue Note Club, Birdland, the Knitting Factory and, most recently, the Kitano.
Roberta's CDs frequently make the "best of" lists of the major jazz magazines. Her trio repertoire consists primarily of her original compositions and highly personalized reworkings of standards. Roberta's 2007 release, "Love and Beauty", demonstrates the virtuosic gifts of her working trio: bassist Ratzo Harris and drummer Billy Mintz, and features her singing for the first time on CD, on a Mintz original.
From 2000 until 2004 Roberta led the electric band Alternating Current, performing on a vintage Wurlitzer electric piano with effects pedals. At the time, the Village Voice wrote that the band "boasts a retro-futurist vibe". The group, featuring Bruce Arnold on guitar, developed a new concept blending 20th century classical harmony with polymetric grooves. The band's CD, "I'm Back In Therapy And It's All Your Fault", received excellent reviews in jazz, fusion and progressive rock magazines as well as in the general press. The group toured six states and performed in several festivals.
Roberta occasionally performs on organ, playing at clubs such as Harlem's Showman's. She has also written several big band compositions, several of which are in the repertoire of the Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra.
Roberta's Nabokov Project sets five poems by Vladimir Nabokov to music for piano, violin, mezzo-soprano with percussion, and speaker. It blends neo-classical harmonic concepts with lush melodies and free improvisational sections. It has been performed at Lotus Music and Dance as part of their 2005 Cooler in the Shade Series, and will be performed in the 2007 21st Century Schizoid Music Series curated by Frank Oteri of the American Music Center.
Roberta has held master classes at the Eastman School of Music, Rutgers University, Cal Arts, Duke University, the Northwestern University Composers' Colloquium, and many others in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Roberta has been an Artist In Residence for the Flushing Town Council in Queens, NY, and has lectured several times for various age groups at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, twice in conjunction with the Smithsonian exhibition, "The Jazz Age in Paris." She has coached ensembles at Long Island University, has several private students, has served as a panelist for the Queens Council on the Arts grant review process and has taught at the Litchfield Jazz Camp and the Vermont Jazz Center. She is also the author of the Jazz Piano Vocabulary series of workbooks, published by Muse-Eek Publishing.
Roberta briefly studied with classical pianist Sofia Rosoff in New York City during the year 2000. In May of 2004 Roberta attended a residency program at the AtlanticCenter for the Arts and formed the new music trio Fragments with Eric km Clarke and Scott Hill. She plays in a free improvisation trio with drummer Billy Mintz and alto saxophonist Mark Reboul, and also occasionally sings and plays standards at senior citizen homes in the New York City area. Most recently, Roberta has been performing more in Europe, including concerts in Berlin, Koln, Barcelona, Madrid, Innsbruck, and Paris.
Unbroken Line (1997); Live at the Blue Note (1998); Speak, Memory (2000);
Midnight In Manhattan (2000); September of Tears (2001);
I'm Back In Therapy And It's All Your Fault (2002); Love and Beauty (2007)
AS SIDEPERSON AND COOPERATIVELY:
Diva: Leave It To Diva (1995); Lionel Hampton: For the Love of Music (1995);
Jamie Baum: Sight Unheard (1995);
Stefan Crump: Poems And Other Things (1997);
Sharp Five: Intersect (1999);
Jamie Begian Big Band: Trance (2002);
Mark Reboul, Billy Mintz, Roberta Piket: 7 Pieces, About an Hour (available as download only) (2003);
1986-present: on various self-recorded mini-discs and cassettes of gigs and recitals throughout the US as a leader, particularly NY, the Midwest, Boston and Pennsylvania. Mostly trio performances with some larger ensembles. Live solo and duo performance with Marian McPartland at the Eastman School of Music dated May 2001.
RADIO AND TELEVISION BROADCASTS:
Two appearances on NPR's Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz: 1994 and 2001.
1988 on Live performances and/or interviews on radio stations WBGH, WNYC, WKCR, WFOV, WORT, KLON, KSDS, KUSP and television station KNSD
39 (San Diego's NBC affiliate).
Interview of Piket by Dr. Billy Taylor for GMN.com.
Live Performance with Diva as part of the "Kennedy Center's 25th anniversary" for PBS
Videotape of live performance at LV's uptown, Portland, OR (2006 with Ratzo Harris and Billy Mintz)
Videotape of live concert at Soka University (2006 with Ratzo Harris and Billy Mintz)
Videotape of two performances at the East Coast Jazz Festival. (1999 with Virgina Mayhew Quartet; 2000 with Sharp Five)
Videotape of performances with the Duke University Jazz Ensemble directed by Paul Jeffrey (1998 and 2001).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: WORKS ABOUT PIKET OR CITING HER (OMITTING NUMEROUS REVIEWS)
"Concert Reviews: (2007) Earshot Jazz Festival" by Tom Conrad,
"Electric Piano Opened Up New World For Musician", by Bob Karlovits,
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2002
"Electrifying Sounds: Jazz Pianist Known For Acoustic Work Embraces
the Wurlitzer Piano", by Nate Guidry, Nov. 11, 2002
"Wurly Bird," by Simon Beck Vintage Keys
(extensive interview) September, 2002.
"Jazz Pianist Piket Is No Mere Parrot," by Andrew Gilbert, San Jose
Mercury News, April 18, 2002.
"Voice Of Promise Is Making Her Arrival," by Charles Levin, Santa Cruz
Sentinel, April18, 2002.
"Piket Finds The Jazz Feeling," by Bob Karlovits, Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review, January 25, 2002
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/iviews/rpiket.htm (extensive interview)
"Meet Roberta Piket," by Craig Jolley, 2001.
"Software Engineer Now Writes In Jazz Notes," by Stuart Low, Rochester
Democrat and Chronicle, May 6, 2001
"Pianist Spins Mood Mixed With Jazz, Classical Music, " by Owen
McNally, The Hartford Courant, Sept. 28, 2000.
"Duke Ellington's 100th Anniversary", by Bret Primack, JazzTimes, March 1999
"Catch Up: Roberta Piket" Swing Journal, June 2000.
"Roberta Piket," by David Zych, JazzTimes, February 2000.
"Records Roundup," by David Orthmann, Hot House, November 1999.
"Jazz Pianist Finds Unbroken Line Between Lyricism and Dissonance ",
by Tim Blangger, The (Allentown) Morning Call, Friday, March 19, 1999.
_Madame Jazz_ Leslie Gourse (Oxford University Press, NY, 1995)
"Keyboard to Keyboard: Meet jazz pianist Roberta Piket, an
ex-computer engineer," by David Garrick, New York Newsday, June 6, 1995.
Jazz Piano Vocabulary Volume 1: The Major Scale (Muse-Eek Publishing, 2003)
Jazz Piano Vocabulary Volume 2: The Dorian Mode (Muse-Eek Publishing, 2003)
Jazz Piano Vocabulary Volume 3: The Phrygian Mode (Muse-Eek Publishing, 2004)
Jazz Piano Vocabulary Volume 4: The Lydian Mode (Muse-Eek Publishing, 2004)
Jazz Piano Vocabulary Volume 5: The Mixolydian Mode (Muse-Eek
Jazz Piano Vocabulary Volume 6: The Aeolian Mode (Muse-Eek Publishing, 2007)
AWARDS AND HONORS:
2000 "Official IAJE Award For Outstanding Service To Jazz Education"
to Roberta Piket Trio (for performance at IAJE Conference in 2000).
Top Five CDs of in JazzTimes Magazine
Top Five CDs of in JazzIz Magazine
Top Ten CDs of in JazzIz Magazine
1995 NEA Study Grant for study in jazz piano and advanced
improvisation and composition with Richie Beirach
1992 American Jazz Piano Competition (Indianapolis) - Third Place
1993 Thelonious Monk-BMI Composers' Competiton - Second Place
web sites: http://www.RobertaJazz.com
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