Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Piket, Roberta

Piket, Roberta (Lynn), pianist, composer, educator, organist, rranger; b. Queens, NY, 9 August 1965.

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. 

RECORDINGS:
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);
Numinous (2003);
Fragments (2004); 

UNISSUED RECORDINGS:
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

VIDEOS:
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, 
JazzTimes.com 
http://jazztimes.com/reviews/concert_reviews/detail.cfm?article=10431
"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 
http://members.lycos.co.uk/karenlbeck/vkmag/issue3/index.html 
(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.

PUBLICATIONS
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 
Publishing, 2004)
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

CONTACT  INFORMATION:
web sites:   http://www.RobertaJazz.com[1]
http://www.AlternatingCurrent.info[2]
email: roberta@robertajazz.com [3]

Links:
[1] http://www.robertajazz.com/
[2] http://www.alternatingcurrent.info/
[3] http://newarkwww.rutgers.edu/IJS/porter/piket@robertajazz.com

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