DALLAS: If you like jazz, you’re in for a toe-tapping treat. And if you missed the first of two Piano Madness concerts presented by the Dallas Jazz Piano Society (DJPS) on April 14, not to worry! Madness Too, DJPS’ second concert benefitting their Keys4Kids program, will be infecting more jazz enthusiasts on April 29.
Piano Madness One
The concert’s audience enthusiastically embraced the April 14 concert, held at the Sammons Art Center, with featured world-class pianists William Foley, Steven Harlos, Kelly Durbin and Kent Ellingson. The players performed a solo number and two duo piano numbers (two pianos) with each of the other three pianists. Bassist Jeffrey Eckels and drummer Steve Barnes accompanied them.
During the concert Dallas Piano Society Artistic Director, Dan Haerle, explained how the concert provides a setting for piano players to get together and exchange ideas and musical conversation with each other, a rare treat for the musicians and audiences. The ensemble included tunes from composers Richard Rodgers and Thelonius Monk.
“The musicianship was as well matched as could be imagined,” reported Bill Martin, DJPS Board Member.”
How the Dallas Jazz Piano Society come to be
Nearly a decade ago, when Jim Calloway’s home began turning into standing room only for fans that gathered for the jazz concerts he hosted, he knew he was on to something. Fortunately, as a jazz piano student at the Dallas School of Music (DSM), he was able to bring his concerts to their recital hall, accommodating more people. With fans following and happy to support the concerts, in 2010, the Dallas Jazz Piano Society (DJPS) was born.
With the nucleus of its board formed, the Dallas Jazz Piano Society was on it’s way to getting serious about music. One of the first professional musicians to play that first year was Dan Haerle. Haerle is a polymath — composer, performer, and Regents Professor Emeritus of Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas. Since its founding, he has served as DJPS’ artistic director.
“I told Jim that I was willing to help out anyway I could,” Haerle fondly recalls.
Part of the Dallas Jazz Piano Society’s mission is to support the study and growth of young musicians. “We want to help students of need who otherwise wouldn’t be able to pursue the study of music.” The money raised by the non-profit will be used to provide piano lessons and keyboards to students who want to study music, but can’t afford to do so.
In 2012, when the DSM headed to a different location, DJPS moved into the Sammons Center, “A logical next step for its growth and stature,” Haerle says. “For the past few years now, all of our performances have been held at the Sammons Center with the exception of our first Piano Madness event, which was held at Steinway Hall in Plano because they had the two pianos we needed.” This year a piano will be moved down from upstairs at the Sammons Center so the event can be held there.”
How the Madness began
“I had played music with two pianos when I was asked to play at a special 88th birthday party for a longtime fan and supporter of Leon Breeden, head of the jazz program at North Texas (1959 to 1981). There were four pianists, Steve Harlos, Stefan Karlsson, Dave Zoller and me,” Haerle says. “Each of us played a solo piano number and then we played two duo numbers with each of the other three pianists. It was a total blast! All of the pianists loved it and the audience really enjoyed an extremely unusual concert.”
So, in the spring of 2015, Dallas Jazz Piano Society presented their first Piano Madness, with a similar program. The madness was so contagious there was no doubt there would be more to come.
Piano Madness Too
The April 29 concert, which will be held at Steinway Hall in Plano, will feature world-class pianists Dave Zoller, Fredrick Sanders, Stefan Karlsson and Dan Haerle. Like the earlier concert, the players’ will performed a solo number and two duo piano numbers (two pianos) with each of the other three pianists.
So come out and hear some of the world’s best pianists play some great old show tunes and help give kids a chance to learn and play music.
“We really hope our fans will become supporters of an original American art form and infect others with their love of the music,” Haerle says.
DJPS presents Piano Madness Too from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. on April 29 at Steinway Hall in Plano. Please go to Dallas Jazz Piano Society for more information.
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