posted by Robert J. Carmack @blues2jazzguy
There are many piano players in the world, boiling down that premise to just Jazz piano players is not a solution either. One could just look inside a union directory, or go on a jazz site and start counting under the letter P.
However, when you call out “women jazz piano players” ,ahhhhh, now that cleaves it down to almost a virtual-handful in the scheme of things. One of these ladies that stand out, but still “under the radar” is New York born,Lenore Raphael (born Lenore Hyams).
Lenore is a jazz pianist and educator heavily influenced by Oscar Peterson, George Shearing and the great Bill Evans, just a few of the many legendary artists who have touched the life of this “Lady of Jazz.” without getting all “cliché” Lenore is a Pianist’s Pianist. What helped form that opinion by music masters many years ago was her PERFORMING at Carnegie Hall in a classical musical setting as a mere teenager. Taking that old adage to heart of “How Do I get to Carnegie Hall? Practice Baby,Practice!
Growing up in New York was half the battle before she even got started, one of the greatest cities to live and study the arts and particularly, Music. Studying classical music all through high school prepared her for her debut at the famous hall. However, She always believe there was more to it than just becoming another pianist playing classical music. she continued her studies at New York University where she received a bachelor of Arts in Music.
After some post- grad work, she began her career as a Music educator in the New York schools, all the while keeping her ears to the ground for opportunities to expand her knowledge and skills, she happened upon a concert that featured the great jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson. That one concert changed her whole life and how she viewed the world in music. She became consumed with how she could learn more about this genre, and its master players. Most importantly, How could she become a part of this beautiful music.
After a series of study sessions with jazz teachers like Mike Longo,(Dizzy Gillespie’s arranger) she also became a student of the “Bud Powell school of Jazz” Pianist, Barry Harris.
Harris has extensive and credible work as bandleader and sideman to some of the world’s greatest artists in the history of Jazz. It wasn’t long before Lenore was making a name for herself as a formidable jazz pianist. The Concrete Jungle was not without ears, especially when those “ears” were attached to the likes of Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet and Clark Terry ,who hired her to work with them on the road and at home concerts.
“I couch Lenore between the likes of Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland, according to Women’s Jazz advocate and singer/songwriter, Joan Cartwright, who knows Lenore well.
“Ms. Raphael has worked with me and my organization on Women in Jazz South Florida,Inc. (http://www.wijsf.com) a few times. She even appeared on one of our Jazz CD compilations.
A composer as well as performer, Lenore Raphael penned a tribute composition to Oscar Peterson following his death ,Blues for O.P. It premiered at a memorial concert for Peterson at the International Association for Jazz Convention in Toronto,Canada. One of her compositions ,is now considered a Jazz standard, Johnny Jazz.
Lenore Raphael, even after all these years on the road and recording in Live concerts and TV, Radio shows, still finds time to do what she started many years ago and that’s teaching music.
Working with a bevy of jazz musicians and music professionals, She and vocalist Janet Lawson have developed a program for elementary students to learn about the history of jazz. This is a format of “combined-efforts” on the part of well established Jazz artist and legends like the Drummond brothers,Ray and Billy,Clark Terry,and Arnie Lawrence. this series has become the model for teaching students the fundamentals of jazz in the curriculum of many schools across the country.
Lenore is committed to spreading the jazz message to children, Raphael has co-created with Marcia Hillman a book-and-tape series called Scat Cat’s Adventures in Jazzland. She has also published a jazz theory book for senior students.
Lenore Raphael usually records with her first-call band mates, bassist Hilliard Greene and drummer Rudy Lawless
An authorized and accredited Steinway artist, Raphael still has her own radio show that features guest artists chatting and performing with her on an hour-long program.
Her most popular CDs include The Whole Truth, Reflections, Wingin’ It, A Beautiful Friendship and Class Act.
People that influence the world of jazz has said;
Jon Hendricks ~legendary Jazz singer/composer, Lenore is one of the baddest pianist out there today”
Henry Holloway Capetown,South Africa~”Lenore is the best jazz/swing pianist in the World in my opinion,” Her music master’s classes are awesome too.
Brian Hough Jass Man Magazine~ “This blond ambassador of Steinway will musically knock your socks off”
Jazz writer John Gilbert has called Lenore “Simply one of the best pianist in our form..She always swings. Most critics always used words like”swinging,emotional, and artistically subtle when describing Lenore’s playing.”
Swinging has always been of major importance to Lenore since she listened to her idols Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson. So is “telling the story”. She strives to be in touch with the intent of the tune when she plays.
Today, Ms. Raphael enjoys the respect of not only the jazz masters and peers, but many of the “new jazz cats & kittens.” There’s been some rumors of late that, Lenore is in the beginning stages of a new “hush-hush” project involving her knowledge,skills as a composer and deep knowledge of jazz history for a potential TV show. no details at the moment, but it promises to be a block-buster. Stay tuned to this blog for further details as they arrive. For further information and programming notes for Lenore’s radio show click on the hot link below.