By Sarah Coursey, Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO – Transplanted New Yorker Jeff Gardner tends an organic garden in the Rio state seaside town of Saquarema. He lives with his wife Rosa and his twin daughters, and when he is not tilling the land he is composing modern jazz, blues and Afro-Latin music. Gardner will perform in Rio with his trio on August 28 and September 11 as well as a special solo performance on September 10.
Growing up in a musical family of classical piano and violin, Gardner remembers a childhood home chiming in melody. “My mom, Iljana, played piano well and there was always that great sound in the house. My father, Edward, played violin, and I played for a few years, but the piano won out.”
At the age of five, Gardner started studying piano with Ruth Schontal, followed by jazz studies with Jaki Byard, Charles Banacos, Don Friedman and John Luis. While studying Russian at Harvard, he was further trained by Ivan Tcherepnin, and continued on to Paris to learn the nuances of harmony with Nadia Boulanger.
A prolific music producer, with more than fifteen CD’s to his name, all barring two or three songs are his own compositions and Gardner has not limited himself to strictly jazz or classical. A musical polyglot, he has crafted ballads with latin and modal moods, bolero, chorinho and other Brazilian sounds. His newest release, “Look Inside”, is the most eclectic to date. It features a mix of influences from electro, rap, funk and Nujazz, just to name a few.
On playing solo, Gardner quipped, “It’s an intimate conversation with the audience, and I can play free, or go into completely written pieces like my 24 Jazz Preludes, many of which work better for solo piano.” His show on September 10 at the IBEU Copacabana for the American Society of Rio de Janeiro is a must for those interested in concentrating on Gardner with no additives.
Gardner’s life in Brazil is intertwined with his music. On living in Rio state, he said that the music is his chief inspiration, especially samba, baião and MPB. As an American, the people and natural beauty drew him to the country, and after meeting his wife and starting a family, his Brazilian dream came true.
There is a drawback to Rio as a performer, however. Gardner offered, “It’s better than it was, but there are still a lack of good creative music venues and festivals.” He more than makes up for the relatively limited performance halls, playing all over Brazil and regularly touring in Europe, US and Latin America, where he has done many tours sponsored by the US State Department.
Gardner will be at Santo Scenarium, Rua Do Lavradio, 36, on August 28, at 8:30PM with his trio including Adrian Barbet on bass and Di Steffano on drums. On September 10 he will play solo piano at the IBEU Copacabana, Avenida N. S. De Copacabana 690, 10th Floor, for the American Society of Rio de Janeiro. On September 11 the trio plays a beautiful new club in Gloria, TRIBOZ, on Rua Conde De Lages, 19.
reservations: TRIBOZ (021)-2210-0366
Santo Scenarium (021) 3147-9006 or 3147-9007