Carmen Staaf

Piano – Jazz Camp Week 1, Jazz Camp Package


inner of the 2009 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Pianist Competition, Carmen Staaf has been called “a new star to discover” ( and “a most impressive pianist” (Bob Brookmeyer); she was listed as one of Revive Music’s “Six Young Pianists You Should Know About” in 2015. Last year she performed with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock at the Hollywood Bowl in the Playboy Jazz Festival, along with the Thelonious Monk Institute Ensemble. In December she played solo piano at the Kennedy Center for NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas, along with Kenny Barron, Fred Hersch and Joey Alexander. The Monk Institute ensemble also toured Morroco and Paris with Herbie Hancock and Dee Dee Bridgewater (with whom the band later played on the Tavis Smiley show). Carmen has previously been a guest soloist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra under Wynton Marsalis, and has been featured on NPR’s JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater, a program that included clips of her trio’s 2010 Kennedy Center performance in the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.

Carmen has performed throughout the United States as well as at numerous festivals and other venues in Europe, Latin America, and India. She played at Carnegie Hall with Lila Downs and at the Village Vanguard with Roberto Rodriguez Octeto Masada (during John Zorn’s Masada residency). Lately she has been part of the SPEAK project featuring tap dancers Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards, the Chitresh Das Kathak dance company, Hindustani musicians and a jazz trio led by drummer Allison Miller (with whom she also performed in Iceland, NYC and Oakland last year). Carmen is active on the NYC and Los Angeles jazz scenes, playing at venues such as Cornelia St Cafe, Iridium, Zinc Bar, Smalls, the Stone, and the 55 Bar, as well as larger concert halls. She is the pianist in Joseph Phillips, Jr.’s New Music ensemble Numinous, whose monumental “Changing Same” came out last year.

Carmen has also worked with jazz luminaries including Henry Grimes (with whom she performed in duo), Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Gomez, Bob Brookmeyer, Esperanza Spalding, Matt Wilson, George Garzone, Francisco Mela, Anat Cohen, and Avishai Cohen. She joined the piano faculty at Berklee College of Music at age 24, upon graduating from a five-year double degree program at Tufts University (Anthropology) and New England Conservatory, where she studied with Danilo Perez and Bob Brookmeyer. She later taught alongside Dafnis Prieto and Ferenc Nemeth at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in South india, and is currently on faculty at the Litchfield Jazz Camp. Carmen studied and performed classical music for 12 years, and took a year off before college to study music in Cuba. Her upcoming sextet album, featuring music she debuted at the 2014 Litchfield Jazz Festival, is due out this summer.

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