Peggy Stern is as well-known as a composer as she is known for her fine piano playing. She arrived at jazz via classical music, R&B, and salsa. Her music has a particularly broad ethnic base — in addition to European and American classical music, Peggy’s music draws from Brazilian, African, Jewish, Irish, Cuban, and traditional jazz influences.

Peggy has composed, played, recorded, and toured in a wide variety of situations: from solos to octets to jazz choruses. Her compositions range from highly original pieces to reharmonized jazz standards. “Everything she writes wants to dance, ” says Ken Dais of Jazziz.

Peggy’s background would account for her varied musical tastes. She began playing classical piano at an early age, continuing her studies at the Eastman School of Music, and finishing a Masters Degree, still in Classical music, at the New England Conservatory. And then she began to improvise. While living in San Francisco, she played in salsa bands, notably Azteca and Supercombo with Benny Vallarde. She did a stint in an R&B band (called Cat’s Cradle) with singer Linda Tillery, and was “instructed” by Paul Jackson (bass) and Mike Clark (drums) of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunter band.

Subsequently, Peggy moved to New York, absorbing the piano stylings of the greats, such as Jimmy Rowles and Tommy Flanagan. Peggy has worked and toured with many wonderful musicians: Lee Konitz, Diane Schuur, David “Fathead” Newman, Jay Clayton, Gary Peacock, Gene Bertoncini, Bud Shank, Red Holloway, Thomas Chapin, Machito, Puck Fair, Bobby Shew, Stanley Turrentine, Gerry Mulligan, Eddie Henderson, Emily Remler, to name a few.

Peggy has toured throughout Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan. In addition, Peggy has worked as an educator for the past 20 years, at colleges in the US. She has given workshops throughout Europe (Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy), and the US.

In 2004, Peggy created the Wall Street Jazz Festival ("where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women") in Kingston, NY; the Festival has been held twelve consecutive years to date. The Festival has featured Sheila Jordan, Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen, Jay Clayton, Dena DeRose, Su Terry, Claire Daly, Jamie Baum, Teri Roiger, Roberta Piket, Virginia Mayhew, Laura Dubin, Sheryl Bailey, Allison Miller, Maryann McSweeney, Marilyn Crispell, Francesca Tanksley, Erica Lindsey,Lee Shaw, Nina Sheldon, Betty MacDonald, Rebecca Coupe Franks, Suzi Stern, Jenny Scheinman, Natalie Cressman, Amy shook, and Peggy Stern's band Estrella Salsa.

Since May 2013, Peggy makes her home in Austin, Texas, to be near her family. Joining the vibrant music scene there, she intends to create a new (for her) musical genre, to add to her already eclectic tastes (Latin, Classical, Brazilian, Progressive and Free jazz, etc). She calls it Cowboy Jazz, and invites you to stay tuned… 

Reviews of Z Octet

Mike Greenblatt (m.greenblatt@classicalite.com)

 

Peggy Stern

Pianist/Composer Peggy Stern leads her 'Z Octet' on genre-baffling new release. (Photo : Brenda Ladd)

Peggy Stern is a musician's musician. She's made her mark in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York City, Europe, Seattle and now Austin (where she's embraced country music; see embedded video). Her multi-hued musical worldview also includes classical, salsa, Latin rock, jazz and R'n'B. Her new Z Octet on her own Estrella Productions label veers classical as a suite in 10 movements. To that end, she's enlisted musicians like cello virtuoso Ilia Delarosa from the Dominican Republic to go with her piano and such colors as flute, clarinet and trombone, all anchored by bass, drums and even vocals.

Yet it's her solo piano treatise "Time @ Time/Hymn" that steals the show. Taken from melodic fragments of the 1947 standard "Time After Time," it's a fascinating unraveling and putting back together of a song that's been ingrained in our collective DNA for 69 years.

"The Elephant's Tango" opens on a flurry of notes. The following "New Year's" is akin to an Americana anthem complete with vocals ("since the dawn of time we like to live in fear"). The only other track with vocals is "Caterina/Isabela." Sung in Italian by Suzi Stern (no relation), it's the true story of a woman from the pianist's River Jazz Choir killed in a car crash nine months pregnant and of the baby who miraculously survived ("when the young play/it's the simple truth that every bell wants to ring/Listen! You can hear it/The sound of every distant star in the sky lighting our way").

Peggy Stern has taken from her experiences playing in the bands of Eddie Henderson, Machito and Lee Konitz to weave a very special tapestry of indefinable music that bobs and weaves like a boxer named Ali. - 

Mike Greenblatt (m.greenblatt@classicalite.com)

 

ALLABOUTJAZZ, 

The music on Z Octet runs a wide gamut, from the humid southern hemisphere stylings of "The Elephant's Tango" to the vocally inflected "New Years" to the elegantly pastoral solo piano of "Red Bug Slough" (channeling the spirit of Aaron Copland crossed with George Winston). Just when you think you have gotten beyond any jazz, "Anomie" shows up, reed-rich and jaunty with plenty of sass and attitude. Even Alex Coke's subdued flute pipes up with Su Terry's dry clarinet when pitted against Alex Heitlinger's muted, talking trombone. This is Duke Ellington’s brilliance, Maria Schneider’s local color, and Miles Davis’ diamond hard seriousness all melded and tempered by a singular mind and talent into a cogent and familiar musical statement.

New CD

Pianist Peggy Stern

CD Baby -- http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/peggystern Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/peggy.stern.71 YouTube -- https://www.youtube.com/user/peggystern

TCA Touring Roster 2016-18

“We are part of the Texas Commission on the Arts Texas Touring Roster. Support may be available to assist with our booking fees through the Arts Respond Performance Support grant program. This quarterly program provides support to Texas schools, libraries, and nonprofit organizations for hiring an artist from the TCA Touring Roster to give a performance, residency, or workshop. These applications are funded based on a sliding scale ranging from 30% to 50% of contracted fees. Support is based on TCA’s available funds. Contact TCA at 512/463-5535 for more information.”

Media Contact:

Terri Hinte

510-234-8781

hudba@sbcglobal.net

Booking Contacts

Danielle Reich

(713) 859-6515

daniellereichmusic@gmail.com

peggity22@gmail.com