Vana Gierig

Born: May 16, 1967    Primary Instrument: Piano

Vana Gierig

” ‘Making Memories’ is about the importance of creating good memories in life. They don't just happen, but we have to actively do something to ‘make’ them, since they will stay with us for the rest of our lives, continuing to shape, change, and enrich us,” says Vana about his new CD release ‘Making Memories’ on Enja Records.

German-born, Boston-schooled, New York-based pianist Vana Gierig uses his music as a language – one of eight languages he masters - to communicate these kind of messages. Called a “piano phenom” by Keyboard Magazine, Vana creates his unique sound as much thru his writing, as thru his style of playing and improvisation. At the core of his projects is always his piano trio, originating from one of those early ‘memories’ he ‘made’ when, at age 12, his parents took him to hear the Oscar Peterson Trio, which started a recurring childhood dream in which he himself was the one playing the piano on that stage....
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Oct. 25th, 2004, Vana received the “National Performance Activity Award” from SESAC (Performing Rights Organization) for his composition Healing In Foreign Lands on #1 Album, Paganini: After A Dream, which he also co-produced and musical directed. 2003 Outstanding Achievement In Songwriting Award in the Great American Song Contest for an original Christmas jazz song entitled ‘Tis the Season of the Year” (co-written with Kathryn Williams). 2003, named a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) for his composition “Low Features” from his release “A New Day.” There were 11,000 entries from all over the world. The judges for jazz were Pat Metheny, Arif Mardin and Bruce Lundvall. Awarded “Best Live Performance, 1994″ in Europe with Will Downing under Vana Gierig’s musical direction. 1986 Award from the Boston Jazz Society for “Outstanding Achievements in Jazz“.
“Vana and I have played together in the most diverse places all over the world, and his music always offers something unexpected and truly beautiful. That’s why I am here” Paquito D’Rivera recording for Vana's Making Memories CD (ENJA Records).

“This is an album of great beauty and elegance.” London Jazz Review (of Vana’s new CD Making Memories)

“Imagine recombining the musical DNA of Herbie, Keith, and Chick with a samba band and you’ve got a notion of what piano phenom Werner “Vana” Gierig’s latest CD is like. What makes the CD (A New Day) a multi-play for me is an abundance of fresh compositional brainstorms for revitalizing the piano trio. No moment is rote; and even the brash experiments are elegant. I’d steal all his good ideas if I had virtuosic technique.” Keyboard Magazine

“The beauty of the bunch was Vana’s sublime melody “Healing In Foreign Lands”, recorded on his first CD, Small Regrets, and rendered as a divine piano-violin encounter on Carter’s recent album Paganini: After A Dream. The song with its melodic line stated simply, proved to be the highlight of the set and a luminous testimony to Gierig’s sizable [...] talent.” Downbeat Magazine

“Werner “Vana” Gierig, on the other hand, feels sure enough of his abilities to compose songful, optimistic melodies and subject them to subtle yet ingenious transformations. [...] His attitude and skill make Vana’s new album, A New Day (Twinz), his second effort as a leader, a rare and happy thing indeed. [...] The [Brazilian] influence (and the percussion) shows up in songs like “Gatinha Sabidinha (Wise Little Cat),” which bumps with witty squeaks, and “Mating Call,” based on a slowed-down samba fragment played with impressive swagger. [...] when the themes return, they carry new and different weights: a tweaked harmony here and a slightly altered timbre there on “Choice of Words”, for example, make for some unexpected evolutions. And bright improvisations by Gierig and company always show up somewhere to enliven the texture. [...] “If something tragic happens,” Gierig explains, tentatively, “hopefully something new will be able to grow out of it, something positive.” As admirable as that attitude is, it’s difficult to make it convincing, but Gierig does it here just as he does on the rest of A New Day.” JazzTimes Magazine

“The Vana Trio is a tight knit group that has been together for some time, which showed in their musical communication on stage. Vana - alternating melodic lyricism with more aggressive rhythmic and harmonic tension building - was a musical sorcerer brewing potions with the trio that lead to many exciting high points throughout the performance. His colorful register- spanning right-hand runs seemed effortless which only added to their hypnotic effect. His original compositions are moving and full of beautiful transformations. And while he got himself into daring improvisations with the trio, he never lost sight of the composition itself, bringing melodies back with new and different weight. Drummer Gene Jackson added unique rhythmic grooves to Vana's music and played with beautiful intensity and sensitivity, and bassist Sean Conly whose interpretation of Brazilian music is as flawless as that of more traditional jazz, provided the perfect grounding between piano and drums. The intense, moving and elegant presence of Vana and his trio is unique, and I strongly recommend going to see and hear them wherever you can catch them next....” Roberta on the Arts

As a Leader: "Making Memories" (2013, ENJA Records) "Small Regrets" Avenue C Records/Twinz "A New Day" Challenge Records/Twinz "Vana Trio plus Brazilian Percussion - live" Avenue C Records As a Side Musician: "Paganini: AFter a Dream" Regina Carter Verve/Universal Vana is executive producer, artisitc musical director, pianist & composer on this album. "Between Yesterday and Tomorrow" Ute Lemper Edel Music Vana is pianist, keyboardist, co-produced, and co-arranged. "Rhythms of the Heart" Regina Carter Verve/Universal "Motor City Moments" Regina Carter Verve/Universal and countless others (to be updated here soon)

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Primary Instrument:

New York, NY

Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students

taught privately for many years piano, harmony, improvisation re-harmonization techniques in improvisation $75/hour

Clinic/Workshop Information:
different formats depending on circumstances (age group of kids or students, type of school or college, etc.)

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