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Peter Apfelbaum Sextet
Kenny Barron / Terrell Stafford / Dayna Stephens / Matt Wilson
Alan Broadbent Trio
Jimmy Cobb Quartet featuring Kenny Barron
Ruth Davies Blues Night featuring Barbara Morrison
Basie and Beyond: Jamie Davis and the Fred Barry Jazz Orchestra
Sasha Dobson Trio
Lou Donaldson Quartet
Madeline Eastman / Dena DeRose
Taylor Eigsti / Julian Lage Group
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Wycliffe Gordon Presents the Jazz Mentors
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Albert "Tootie" Heath
Jimmy Heath
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Nancy King
Kneebody
Lee Konitz
Maria Marquez Quintet
Jeb Patton Trio featuring Tootie Heath
Nicholas Payton Quintet
Kurt Rosenwinkel Group
John Santos Quintet
The Latin Side of the Great American Songbook with Peggy Stern
(New) Standards Night wtih Peter Stoltzman
Patrick Wolff Trio

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The Latin Side of the Great American Songbook with Peggy Stern
Peggy Stern is an eclectic pianist and composer with far ranging influences. Initially classically trained and a graduate of the Eastman School as well as the New England Conservatory, she found her way to San Francisco, where she explored salsa and R&B. Returning to the East Coast, she was introduced to saxophonist Lee Konitz, who had heard Peggy’s compositions on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” program. When not touring and recording, Peggy is a music educator, and her latest interest has been in writing for jazz choirs.

Photo at left: Peggy Stern with Jimmy & Tootie Heath at the Week 1 Jazz Camp party.

 

In order to get to know her better, we asked Peggy to answer a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:

If you could be any other type of artist other than a jazz musician, what would you be and why?
If I weren’t a musician I would be a writer; it seems like the same thing to me, and as anyone who knows me would attest, I love words! The way I like to write, it feels the same as music to me—improvisational and free, but not without the tools of the trade: grammar, spelling, syntax, etc. I like to goof around with the sound of words together; to me, writing words is just like writing music.

What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had on the bandstand?
When I was a young musician, I was working with Richie Cole, who had Eddie Jefferson as a guest that night. Eddie had no charts, and he called “On the Waterfront”, which was a tune I didn’t know. Well, the bass player hadn’t shown up yet, and I really didn’t know the tune, melody or harmony. Eddie says, that’s ok, you’ll hear it. So he starts singing, I start guessing, and pretty soon, he turns around to me and says,”Stroll!”, so of course I start walking the bassline… sounded like strolling to me, and he turns around and says louder, for the audience to hear, “Stroll!” I walk some more bassline, and finally he yells, “Lay out!” No, I did not fall off the bench and lie down on the stage, but very nearly—from mortification!”

Do you have a favorite music-related joke (that can be told in mixed company!)
Well, it kind of takes too long, but it always tickles me, as a rhythm section player: the one about the man on safari, and his guide. As they walk through the jungle, they hear drumming in the distance, and our tourist gets nervous, but the guide (repeatedly) reassures him, drums ok, drums ok. Drums stop, very bad. As they continue their trek, the drums get louder and louder, but the guide says again, drums good, drums ok. Drums stop, very, very bad. All of a sudden, the drums stop. The guide pulls up, alarmed. Our tourist, sweating and frightened, says what’s going on?! Guide says, drums stop, very very bad—bass solo.

When did you become interested in music, and what circumstances or events led to your becoming a professional musician?
I really became a musician as a child: wrote my first tune when I was 5, called May Flowers. I loved the piano always, as the most responsive and safest place for me to be (as a third child). Then it started rewarding me back pretty quick, with special attention, and getting out of math and physics in high school, because I was the accompanist for everything, things like that. I had wonderful training, loving teachers (one in particular so loved the music that she infused me with her enthusiasm, thanks Louise!), and it was a natural for me to go to Eastman, and then on to New England conservatory. After that, there was a big change for me, because I wanted the relevance of contemporary music—classical music wasn’t doing it for me in the 70’s). At that time I was playing in a Renaissance chamber group, and had to improvise with just figured bass, loved it, and it was a hop and a skip from there to jazz!”

What’s the last book you’ve read?
My most recent and most memorable are “Leap!” by Sara Davidson, an anthology of people from the ‘boomer’ generation, and what they have been doing with their hopes and dreams all this time: a wonderful book, it catalogs some very well-known people, and some people not famous, but who have led pretty interesting lives. The book talks about the crisis of aging parents, and retired living, and efforts to save the world (!), little things like that… I have also recently read “Everyman” by Philip Roth, and “The History of Love,” by Nicole Krauss.

To find out more about Peggy. go to peggystern.com

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