2020 Jazz Piano Workshop – Saturday, February 1, 2020
This FREE workshop is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for students to explore jazz piano, meet peers with similar interests, and learn from renowned jazz pianists from the Twin Cities! Designed for middle and high school students that can read music and have a minimum of 3 years of piano experience, students will work on playing jazz piano in small groups with clinicians. Students with no jazz experience whatsoever to students with advanced jazz experience are encouraged to attend, and will be placed in groups based on ability.
Registration Questions: Please consider all questions thoughtfully before answering them honestly in order to have the best experience possible. We will be grouping our students differently than previous years in order to optimize student learning, and our registration questions have changed based on extensive discussion with our jazz clinician experts!
Presented by Schubert Club and Minnesota Jazz Education (Formerly The Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education)
2020 Clinicians: deVon Russell Gray, Mary Louise Knutson, and Bryan Nichols
deVon Russell Gray is the current Schubert Club Composer in Residence. Gray’s music reflects equal reverence for Eric B. & Rakim, Mingus, and Bartók. Factor in true love for contemporary poetry, Afrofuturism, astrophysics, Sci Fi animated series, cooking, libations, and other Renaissance activities, and a picture of Gray begins to come into view. Gray envisions a world in which socially constructed divisions fade into oblivion and where concert offerings seamlessly program twentieth century modernists alongside spiritual jazz and free improvisation, adjacent to electronic music and progressive hip hop producers. Gray began writing original music and compositions at age eight. Drawing on his upper Midwestern upbringing and 1980s hip hop, dVRG developed a deep and profound connection to his community. Today, he is a proud part of the Twin Cities’ rich, diverse, and vibrant arts culture, whether collaborating on theater projects, art shows, radio broadcasts or mentoring younger composers and performers. May of 2018 saw the ninth annual awarding of the HEIRUSPECS Scholarship; a fund began by deVon and his bandmates at their alma mater, St. Paul Central High School which benefits graduating students who demonstrate ties to the arts. He also created a work entitled All Kinds of Blues, Right?!, commissioned and performed by the Central High School Jazz Band, dedicated to the greater Central High community and to the memory of Philando Castile. Gray’s achievements in composition include a McKnight Fellowship, participation in the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy for Musicians, guest lecturing at St. Olaf College, and most recently Gray was awarded one of the inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellowships.
Mary Louise Knutson, Minneapolis-based jazz pianist and composer, has been called “one of the most exciting and innovative artists to happen to jazz piano in quite some time.” Her warm, inviting tone, broad range of emotional expression, and distinctive compositions have brought her much recognition on the national music scene. Knutson has been performing and touring with her group, the Mary Louise Knutson Trio, since the early 90’s and from 2010-2018 she toured with former Tonight Show bandleader-trumpeter Doc Severinsen and his big band (featuring two-time Grammy Award winner tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts). Off-tour, she can be heard in the Twin Cities with her trio at clubs, festivals, concert halls, and private events; also with vocalists Connie Evingson, Debbie Duncan, or Patty Peterson; and with a variety of instrumental groups including the JazzMN Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. She has performed with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Kevin Mahogany, Ernie Watts, Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, Nicholas Payton, Slide Hampton, and many more. Knutson’s debut jazz trio CD, Call Me When You Get There, charted in JazzWeek’s Top 50, earning her the award for Top New Jazz Instrumentalist and her latest jazz trio CD, In the Bubble, made JazzWeek’s Top 10 and stayed in the Top 50 for 19 consecutive weeks. In 2005, she was a Finalist in the Kennedy Center’s Women in Jazz International Pianist Competition and in 2006, Knutson was a Minnesota Music Awards nominee for both Jazz Artist of the Year and Pianist of the Year.
Bryan Nichols is a pianist, composer, and educator based in Minneapolis. Often found playing jazz and improvised music, but at home in a variety of musical worlds, he leads and composes for his own trio, quintet, and nonet in addition to performing, recording, and touring with forward-thinking artists like Nicole Mitchell, Ron Miles, and Donna Grantis, and groups like Dead Man Winter, Halloween, Alaska, and the Minnesota Orchestra. He is a recipient of a McKnight Fellowship for Performing Artists and a residency at the Kennedy Center for Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program. Bryan has released two albums as a leader, an original solo piano work, Looking North, and a suite of originals for his quintet, Bright Places.