Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Stiles, Joan (Lillian Silver).

Stiles, Joan (Lillian Silver), pianist, arranger, teacher; b. Brooklyn, NY, 1 June 1954. 

Studied piano as a child and as a teenager sang and played in pop music groups including a rock band, "The Aluminum Dream."  She earned a B.A. in music from Brooklyn College (1977), graduating magna cum laude with honors in Piano Performance and was awarded The Selma Stein Award to pursue graduate studies.  She studied piano with Michael Rogers and worked as a free-lance harpsichordist and pianist for choirs including the Sine Nomine Singers.  At this time, she was also a young wife, and mother to her children, Jessica and Evan.

For the next few years (1978-1984), Joan was a graduate student in the C.U.N.Y Ph.D. Program where she studied theory/analysis with Carl Schachter, Charles Burkhart, Robert Starer, George Perle.  At Brooklyn College, she taught music theory (1978-84; 1987-89) and was the Assistant Conductor of the Chorus under Harry Saltzman (1978-1980).  Although her professional/academic life focused on classical music, Joan began to pursue her interest in jazz and studied with pianist, Dick Katz.  After finishing her coursework toward the Ph.D., she opted not to write a dissertation and instead pursued and received a Masters degree in Jazz (M.M) from Manhattan School of Music (1986), where she studied piano with Harold Danko and arranging with Richard DeRosa and David Berger. 

Since the late1980's, Joan has been active as a jazz educator.  In 1989 she joined the full-time Jazz Faculty of Manhattan School of Music, where she teaches Theory and Ear Training and is the Coordinator of the Jazz Keyboard classes.  Since 1990, she has been teaching Jazz Theory and Piano in the Jazz and Contemporary Music Program of New School University.  One rainy evening in 1988,en route to a concert of Duke Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige, Joan slipped on a cellar door and suffered multiple fractures of her left wrist.  Following surgery and a long recuperative process, her commitment to jazz was strengthened and she resumed piano studies--with jazz pianist, Fred Hersch and classical pianist, John Kamitsuka.  Soon after, she was performing as a jazz pianist, composing and arranging for horns, and leading ensembles in NY area jazz clubs including Birdland and The Blue Note.  In 1995, she played her compositions as part of "Ladyfingers", a marathon concert by leading women pianist/composers at The New School's Tischman Auditorium.  In 2001, her work as a singer/pianist was highlighted in "Something to Sing About: a Singer's Celebration" at The Blue Note.

An important part of Joan's musical life is her ongoing concert series called, "Mostly Mary Lou" for which she re-arranges and performs the music of Mary Lou Williams.  She has presented these concerts at The New School, The Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium of the Baha'i Center of NY and "A Place for Jazz" in Schenectady, NY.  Her quintet was featured at the "Kool-Knowledge" Conference on Mary Lou Williams at Rutgers' Institute of Jazz Studies (2002).  Members of her ensembles have included Jerry Dodgion, Warren Vache', Steve Wilson, Jeremy Pelt, Joel Frahm, Jim Rotondi,Todd Coolman,  Dennis Irwin, and Lewis Nash. 

Love Call (with Clark Terry and Frank Wess) (1998)
As sideperson:
Rita Falbel: Timepieces (1991); F.I.T. (music for exercise video with Harvie S., Bob Mintzer) (1992)

Work by Joan Stiles:
"Mary Lou Williams' 'Waltz Boogie'" in Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Vol. 13 (2005).
"Miles Davis and 'My Funny Valentine':  The Evolution of a Solo"  by Howard Brofsky in A Miles Davis Reader, Bill Kirchner, editor (Stiles' transcriptions).  Washington, D.C.:  Smithsonian Institution press, 1997.  Originally published in Black Music Research Journal, Fisk University, 1983.
"Melody--Some Tips from the Recordings of Nat 'King' Cole" in Jazz and Keyboard Workshop, June/July 1986 reprinted as "How to Embellish a Melody" in Keyboard Workshop, Ekay Music,1995.
"Red Garland--An Introduction and Ending" in Jazz and Keyboard Workshop, August/September 1988 reprinted in Keyboard Workshop, Ekay Music,1995.
"Chord Progressions:  Moveable Forms," "How to Memorize Songs," "The Blues," "Non-chord tones and the Art of Embellishment," "With a Little Help from Chopin," "Down and Dirty," "Eight Paths from F to Bb," "Major and Minor Sevenths," "Voice Leading,"  in Keyboard Workshop, Ekay Music, 1995.
"Ellington's Offering" In The Westsider.  December 15, 1993.
"Nocturne" (composition for piano) published in Dr. Johnson's Piano Method:  Aamsco 1979.
Work about Joan Stiles
"Stiles to Salute Mary Lou Williams" by Tim Coakley in The Schenectady Daily Gazette, Oct. 30. 2003.
"NYC Jazz Labs Strike the Right Chords" in Key Action, Winter 2002.
"Jazz Stylin' w/Stiles" in Accent Magazine.  Winter 2002.

Contact information:
Joan Stiles
Manhattan School of Music
120 Claremont Ave
New York, NY 10027

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