Bill Cunliffe’s musical journey brings him and his trio to perform on Jan. 15, kicking off the new year for Lakeshore Music in a 7:30 p.m. concert at Ravenscroft Hall, 8445 E. Hartford Dr., Scottsdale.
His roots as a pianist and arranger trace to his days with the Buddy Rich Big Band, according to a press release.
He also worked with Frank Sinatra before establishing himself as a solo artist and bandleader with more than two-dozen albums and worldwide concerts to his name.
Known for his innovative and swinging style, Cunliffe will appear with the legendary Joe LaBarbera on drums and Derek Oles on bass, the release said.
With LaBarbera, a jazz drummer who played with Bill Evans during the final years of his career, and Polish-born jazz bassist Oles, Cunliffe recently delved deeper into Evans’ music.
“In the ‘70s, he sounded a little bit polite rhythmically. Then I saw his trio in ’78 and it was fiery, like Bill Evans meets John Coltrane. It would get really loud, really intricate, really intense,” Cunliffe said.
“I attribute a lot of that to Joe. He brought that to Bill. It made Bill’s music take on a lot more life for me. Now there’s a fire that makes it more contemporary for me. That all made it work. That’s what you’ll hear.”
Cunliffe is visiting a day early before the concert to have an opportunity to look at the state-of-the-art Ravenscroft Hall, which his friend, Bob Ravenscroft, opened in October, noted the release.
“I’m coming over a day early and it’s going to be fun to see everything,” said Cunliffe in the release.
Cunliffe met Ravenscroft in Vail, Colorado, where Cunliffe has been involved with the Vail Jazz Workshop for 30 years, the release said.
Their friendship grew and Ravenscroft, with little fanfare, sent one of his custom-made pianos, which retails for $230,000, to Cunliffe’s southern California home. He is among the few musicians in the world with a Ravenscroft piano, built in Scottsdale, in his home.
“I’m a big fan of Bob and the work he’s done, needless to say,” said Cunliffe, noting his gratitude. “It’s just a beautiful, beautiful instrument. It’s the 220 model, 7-feet, 3-inches. I’ve got it in a back room. At some point, I’m going to expand it because I don’t really have the right room. But it records OK in there with a couple of mikes.”
Cunliffe was awarded a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for “West Side Story Medley,” on the album “Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson” (Resonance Records, 2009). He has received five Grammy nominations and two Emmy nominations; was 1989 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition; and in 2010 the Los Angeles Jazz Society honored him with its Composer/Arranger Award.
Reserved seating is $60; reduced pricing for mini season tickets; students 50% off (must present student ID).
Call 602-679-0590 or email email@example.com for more information.
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