Born: September 7, 1958 Primary Instrument: Piano
Bruce Barth is widely considered to be one of finest jazz pianists and composers of his generation. New York City’s Village Voice calls him “one of the best pianists in town, period.” His is a modern and original voice, with great expressive depth and compelling rhythm. His music is deeply rooted in the jazz tradition, and encompasses the wide scope of his life and musical experiences, from recollections of the old West to forays into the blues and Latin music.
Barth has appeared in major jazz festivals, clubs, and concerts throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, with his trio, as a solo pianist; alongside several of jazz’s greatest elders, and with some of the most dynamic voices of his own generation. He has played on more than ninety CD’s, including nine as a leader. His most recent trio release is Live At the Village Vanguard on MAXJAZZ, and his first DVD, Live in Spain, will be released this year on the new Spanish label, Quadrant.
Originally from Pasadena, California, Barth started piano lessons at the age of five, with a natural tendency to play by ear. He studied piano, theory, and musicianship for more than ten years with Anthony and Sue LaMagra. He fell in love with jazz as a teenager, and learned by listening to records, later studying privately with Norman Simmons and at the New England Conservatory with Jaki Byard, George Russell, and Fred Hersch. While in Boston he recorded “The African Game” and “So What,” with George Russell's Living Time Orchestra, for release on Blue Note Records.
Within a year of moving to Brooklyn in 1988, Barth toured Japan with Nat Adderley. After a brief stint with Stanley Turrentine, he joined Terence Blanchard’s quintet in 1990. During the next four years, he toured extensively with Blanchard, recorded six CD’s and several movie soundtracks, and even played onscreen in Spike Lee’s film, Malcolm X.
While in Blanchard’s band, he recorded his first two CD’s as a leader, In Focus and Morning Call on the Enja label, both which were chosen for the New York Times’ top ten lists in their respective years. These recordings displayed not only Barth’s piano work, but the scope of his original compositions and fresh arrangements of jazz standards.
He has continued to release a stream of critically acclaimed recordings in solo, trio, quintet and septet groupings, the latter featured on his 2001 release East and West; with an all-star group playing Barth’s compositions based on memories of his childhood experiences in the Western United States -- deserts, ranches, and ghost towns.
Some of Barth’s recent trio engagements include the Village Vanguard, Jazz Standard, and Smoke in New York; The Kennedy Center in Washington; and several major European festivals including San Sebastian, Stockholm, and Barcelona. He has played two extensive solo piano tours of Japan. The Bruce Barth Septet, originally featured on his East and West recording, has played the Jazz Standard and toured Europe, with festival appearances in Terrassa, Spain and Braga, Portugal.
Last November, Barth recorded a live DVD at the Lleida Jazz Festival with bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Montez Coleman. The resulting DVD, Live in Spain, will be released later this year on Quadrant Records.
Barth has had performed and/or recorded with such jazz luminaries as James Moody, Slide Hampton, Art Farmer, Phil Woods, Nancy Wilson, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Tom Harrell, Grady Tate, John Patitucci, Roy Hargrove, Lewis Nash, Joshua Redman, David Sanchez, and the Mingus Big Band.
In addition to his own bands, Barth is currently working with the Steve Wilson Quartet, Terell Stafford Quintet, and groups led by Karrin Allyson and Luciana Souza. He has collaborated with many other creative lights of his generation, including Tim Armacost, Adam Kolker, Brad Leali, Sam Newsome, Scott Wendholt, Luis Bonilla, Dave Stryker, Ed Howard, Ugonna Okegwo, Adam Cruz, and Leon Parker.
Barth is also a grammy-nominated producer, and has more than twenty albums to his credit. He has produced recordings by Rene Marie, Carla Cook, Terell Stafford, and Laurent Coq, among others, and has contributed his composing and arranging talents to several projects.
Finally, he is a gifted and original teacher, and is currently on the faculty of Temple University in Philadelphia. He has also taught at Berklee College of Music and Queens College, and has taught professional pianists from several countries. He has participated in several seminars, master classes, and summer programs in the United States, Europe, and Japan.
Bruce Barth albums
Discography at the official Bruce Barth website.
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