Born: February 9, 1981
'Winner of the festival's piano competition last year, Staaf could have earned a small slot on the program on the strength of her technique alone. What stood out, though, were her compositions, particularly the fanciful Merry Go Round, and her trio's fresh interpretation of Denzil Best's 45 Degree Angle, a Williams favorite.' - David Malitz, The Washington Post (review of the 2010 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival opening night concert at the Kennedy Center).
'Next to take the stage was Carmen Staaf, winner of the 2009 Mary Lou Williams Pianist Competition. Performing with a trio, Staaf presented a mix of original compositions and pieces somehow related to Williams. For each, Staaf provided a detailed explanation of its origins, adding a heartfelt explanation of her respect for William's music and generosity of spirit. Equally sincere in her playing, Staaf delivered clearly articulated ideas, particularly on her own well-structured original compositions. Of particular note was her solo piece Rory.' - Frank A. Matzner, All About Jazz, June 24, 2010 (Mary Lou Williams Festival review)....