Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Rosnes, Renee, piano; b. Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, 24 March 1962. She was the youngest of three adopted girls and grew up in Vancouver. Her birth father, deceased, and mother, Mohindar, remarried, are Indian; a few months after Rosnes met Mohindar in 1994, her adoptive mother, Audrey, died of cancer. (Her album Ancestors was partly inspired by both women.) Her oldest sisters played piano and violin; the middle girl played piano and cello. She began piano at 3, then violin a few years later. In elementary school she began learning pop tunes from the radio
Rosnes played classical violin in youth orchestras from age eight to eighteen. Her favorite orchestral pieces included the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony, the Ravel Afternoon of a Faun, and works by Carl Nielsen. An astute grade school (and later, high school) music director named Bob Rebagliati brought her into the jazz band and introduced her to a recording of Oscar Peterson. When she transcribed part of it on paper he encouraged her further and loaned her recordings of Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and others. She studied music through the Royal Academy of Music, then returned to Vancouver, where she performed. She also booked late night jam sessions at Basin Street, where she played with Woody Shaw, Steve Turre, and Branford Marsalis. In 1986 she came to N.Y. on a grant from the Canada Council of the Arts and decided to stay when she began working with Joe Henderson at the Village Vanguard and elsewhere, and then in O.T.B. She and Billy Drummond married on June 30, 1990. She toured with J.J. Johnson, and also worked with James Moody, Jon Faddis, Bobby Hutcherson, Wayne Shorter.In spring 1996 she performed as a sideperson at Bradley's (N.Y.), led a group at a tribute to Mary Lou Williams at the Kennedy center (D.C.) and for a week at Sweet Basil (N.Y.), and in May performed in an Ellington tribute at Lincoln Center. She has also been the pianist for the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. Chris Potter has been a regular in her group. She worked with Ralph Moore in the cooperative group Native Colors; when Moore left to play in the Tonight Show band she was also offered a place but chose not to accept it. Her compositions include "Malaga Moon," which was recorded by J.J. Johnson and performed by the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and "Abstraction Blues (For Georgia O'Keefe)," commissioned and premiered by Jazz at Lincoln Center. In Canada she is an even more major star than in the U.S. She loves the piano music of the Impressionists Ravel and Debussy. She listens to favorite pianists Horowitz and Claudio Arrau. She buys at least one classical CD every time she shops for jazz records. She lives in New Jersey.
Face To Face (1989); Renee Rosnes (1988-89); For The Moment (1990); Without Words (1992); Ancestors (1995); As We Are Now (1997); Live At Zinno's (private recording) (1997)
Joe Henderson: Punjab (1986) ; Gary Thomas: Seventh Quadrant (1987); Janet Marlow: Outside The City (1987); Akio Sasajima: Humpty Dumpty (1988); Out Of The Blue: Spiral Staircase (1989); Superblue: Superblue 2 (1989); Jon Faddis: Into The Faddisphere (1989); Greg Osby: Season Of Renewal (1989); Gary Thomas: While The Gate Is Open (1990); Jon Faddis: Hornucopia (1991); Billy Drummond: Native Colours (1991); Todd Coolman: Lexicon (1991); Vincent Herring: Secret Love (1993); J.J. Johnson: Let's Hang Out (1992); Billy Drummond: The Gift (1993); Free Trade: Free Trade (1994); Todd Coolman: Tomorrows; Carnegie Hall Salutes the Jazz Masters (1994); J.J. Johnson Quintet: Live At Mount Fuji (private recording) (1994); Native Colours: One World (1994); J.J. Johnson Quintet: Live In Paris (private recording) (1994); Joe Magnarelli: Why Not (1994); Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen: Friends Forever (1995); Fleurine Verloop: Meant To Be! (1995); J.J. Johnson: Live At Iridium (private recording) (1996); Ray Drummond: Vignettes (1996); Dave Young: Two By Two, vol. 2 (1996), Dave Young: Two By Two, vol. 3 (1996); Bob Belden: Shades Of Blue (1996); Andy Fusco: Big Man's Blues (1996);
Television broadcasts and videos:
J.J. Johnson Quintet: Live At The Bern Jazz Festival German Satellite TV broadcast (1993); Renee Rosnes Quartet: Live In Toronto CBC Broadcast (1996); She was interviewed on BET on Jazz in 1997 and performed on the telecast Carnegie Hall Salutes the Jazz Masters. She is the subject of the CBC TV documentary (available on video) and performs on R.R., Jazz Pianist (45 minute video, 1997).
From The Piano Stylist and Jazz Workshop, October-November, 1991
ROSNES, RENEE North Of The Border, 3 horns, rhy, score & parts #HL00000672. Second Floor Music/Hal Leonard.
L. Gourse. Talk About Lineage, Jazziz, August 1996
E. Nazareth. Renee Finds Musical Roots. Toronto Sun, March 15, 1996
M.Miller. Making Jazz Time With a Broad Stroke. Toronto Globe and Mail, March 16, 1996
S. Fromartz. Pianist R.R. Talks. Reuters news story, Jan. 1998
Three of her recordings have earned the Canadian Juno Award; Without Words was named Best Jazz Album of the Year by Canada's Jazz report and voted one of U.S.A. Today's top ten (1993); she was voted Acoustic Pianist of the Year by Jazz Report in 1994