Born: May 9, 1972 Primary Instrument: Piano
Award winning Pianist/Arranger/Composer Andy Nevala is based in Denver, CO. He has been recognized by Downbeat Magazine on 9 different occasions, winning Downbeat Music Awards for composition (2002), arranging (2003), and performing/directing (2000, 2000, 2002). He moved to Colorado in 1997 after graduating from Boise State University to pursue graduate studies in music. He completed a Master of Music in Theory and Composition from UNC in 2000, and is currently completing a Doctorate in Jazz Piano Performance from the University of Colorado, Boulder. His newest CD, Alone Together, was released September 18th, 2007, and is on the Capri Label. The CD is available at HMV, CD Universe, Artist Direct, Emusic, Itunes, and Capri Records, among others. He has toured Canada, Europe, Japan, South America, and has performed in every state in the US except Alaska and Hawaii. He has most recently performed with vocalist Steve Lippia and guitarist Eddie Turner, nominated in the 2006 Blues Music Awards as Best New Artist. Andy has been a featured artist at the Calgary C-Jazz Festival (2007), the Gene Harris Jazz Festival (2003, 2008), and the Kinser Jazz Festival (2007), and has performed as a sideman at the JVC Jazz Festival in NYC (Birdland), the Ottawa Blues Fest, the WDR in Bonn, Germany, the Berlin Blues Fest, the Aspen Jazz Festival, the Telluride Jazz Festival, the Vienna Blues Fest (Austria), and has also completed 2 tours with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. While at UNC he directed and performed in Combo's I and II, winning downbeat awards for Outstanding Performance by a College Combo and Best Blues/Pop/Rock Group winner, respectively. He also performed in the award winning Jazz Lab I, under the direction of Dr. Gene Aitkin, and was a featured soloist on the UNC Jazz Program recording Gene Aitkin directs UNC Jazz Lab Band I - Alive XVII, playing piano and Hammond B-3. At UNC he performed with Conrad Hertwig, Brian Lynch, Louis Bellson, Peter Erskine, and Pete Fountain, as well as opened for Kurt Elling, Russell Malone, Poncho Sanchez and McCoy Tyner. While at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he performed in Jazz Ensemble I and Combo I, winning downbeat awards for Outstanding Performance Original Song, Jazz Arrangement Co-Winner, Outstanding Group (Combo I) and Outstanding Jazz Ensemble (CU JazzEnsemble I). He also directed Combo's IV+III, Jazz Ensemble II, and taught the Jazz Piano class. At CU, he performed with Chris Potter, Jiggs Whigam, and James Carter. Andy has also been commission to arrange for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Denver Brass, the Steve Lippia Big Band, Conjunto Colores, his own groups, and has recorded on over 20 CD’s released in the US, Japan, and South America. His current groups have performed live on KUVO (89.3 FM), and have been on the most recent compilation cd’s released by KUVO, “Live at the Oasis”.
Awards:2003 Downbeat College Music Awards, Arrangement CO-Winner 2003 Downbeat College Music Awards, CU Jazz Ensemble I 2002 Downbeat College Music Awards, Original Song Outstanding Performance 2002 Downbeat College Music Awards, Jazz Instrumental Group Outstanding Performance, CU Combo I, Performer 2000 Downbeat College Music Awards, Best College Jazz/Rock Group, UNC Combo I, Director and Performer 2000 Downbeat College Music Awards, Best College Jazz/Rock Performance, UNC Combo II, Director and Performer 2000 Downbeat College Music Awards, Best Vocal Jazz Group, UNC Sus 4, Rehearsal Pianist and Performer 1999 Downbeat College Music Awards, Best Vocal Jazz Group, UNC Sus 4, Rehearsal Pianist and Performer
ANDY NEVALA: “ALONE TOGETHER”
Liner notes by Chip Stephens
As a jazz pianist, educator, father, mentor, husband and just about anything else you can think of, my life’s experience has lead me to the reality that there isn’t one way of doing anything. Perhaps at the end of the day, one way might in truth, be better than another, but, this too is very subjective.
This is no truer than in jazz. When I was much, much younger, I felt that my approach to the music was in my very naïve brain, the tried and true-all of musical treatments - it had to be, I wasn’t happy otherwise. I was foolishly, an elitist. With maturity and experience however, I opened to the vast array of other approaches and treatments that in the end, are every bit as valid as my own.
The idea of acknowledging another’s approach and style is something that would well benefit society as a whole. It’s as simple as saying, “what you do what you are, is valid - period”! This attitude has impacted my personal outlook on life, relationships, my playing and teaching in a most positive way. It’s not about doing things “my way” or anyone else’s for that matter. It’s about helping people find a way. This is not to underestimate the benefits of studying from the masters mind you.
One definition of originality is picking obscure sources. There’s humor and irony in this quote, but, Andy Nevala has found a way his way - of expressing himself that is original, fresh, interesting and inclusive. His playing evokes the primary spirit of jazz in the most obvious of ways, individual expression. He has an affinity for Latin music and plays it with the rhythmic precision and understanding of many of the Latin greats. His harmonic and linear approaches are startling and he has selected his band mates with care because they cook collectively.
The title cut “Alone Together”, recalls the fearless abandon of Michel Camillo and Eddie Palmeri. The quartet’s great energy and fresh treatment of this often played standard is a welcomed listening experience. Articulate bass work from Matt Spencer adds yet another level of musical and technical prowess.
I listen scientifically to drummers and percussionists because many play as if they’re simply hitting things. I don’t hear their story. Veteran congalero Victor Nieves tells a story and extracts the depth of sound from the congas that I love and want to hear. The combination of Victor and drummer Mike Marlier is infectious. Mike’s drumming encompasses the wide range of color that I expect from a great drummer. From the hard-hitting dimension, to simply fulfilling his role - playing impeccable time, it’s all there!
Andy’s arrangement of “Autumn Leaves” won him “The Best Jazz Arrangement Award” in Down Beat Magazines Annual Student Music Awards in 2003. It’s nice to hear it here as it showcases his great arranging abilities and the contrapuntal approach to writing that he utilizes all to well. He and Matt play a counter line underneath the right hand melody - it’s not easy to do! It requires independence and coordination. A consistently fresh harmonic treatment does not disappoint either.
“Nocturne” showcases the compositional talents of Andy. It’s a beautiful dark flower of a composition that haunts and evokes a wonderful range of emotion. Appropriately, one of the albums other bassists, Jose Gonzalo Teppa, has selected the acoustic bass for this composition and his warm sound complements the character of the piece beautifully. Brushes from Mike for most of the piece add to the serene undercurrent that supports the work.
This album is one you have to count to. Mike’s intro on “Caravan” again keeps you guessing - which I love. He propels this version like a camel on caffeine. Take me away from the same old formula that we’ve been using in jazz for nearly a hundred years now. It’s great! This should be called “Caravan Mucho Callientes Hot”! Trombonist Darren Kramer exploits the outer limits of the instruments parameters, creating sounds that baffle and intrigue. No rendition of this song would ever be complete without solos from the percussion battery and again, Victor Nieves delivers a fine one and his contributions provide superb energy and support throughout.
“Fragile” written by Sting is one of the albums 7 trio compositions. Its depth is indicative of the composer’s soul and Andy’s arrangement captures the integrity and sad romance of this tender piece beautifully.
Keep countin’……“Dot Com Bustion” is an odd meter piece. With its bar of 4/4 followed by a bar of ¾, it’ll keep you on your toes. The exciting bassist Bijoux Barbosa pushes the envelope with his daring linear approach to this somewhat ambiguous harmonic pattern.
The last original from Andy is “Serpentina”. This composition perfectly demonstrates the democratic mind-set that defines any good improvisationally based music. Andy spreads the risk of soloist, accompanist and leader never afraid to share the spot light with his fellow band mates.
“Tres Lindas Cubanas” encapsulates what this album is all about; authentic Afro-Cuban music played with honesty, originality, integrity and precision. The veteran bassist Jimmy Trujillo has defined himself as the timbao king of the Rocky Mountain region. His support and understanding along with Victor on congas, Jose Espino on percussion and the authentic violin work of Nicole Routman are outstanding.
The CD closes with another burner, “What Is This Thing Called Love”. Fine drum work from the albums other drummer, Brian Dillon sets up the melody to close out a fun, interesting and original project that is worthy, valid and most importantly, a good listen. Enjoy!
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Teaching for over 10 years. $50 an hour.
Go through the history of Latin Jazz, demonstrating styles on each instrument from Bossa Nova (Brazil) to Mambo and Afro-Cuban (Cuba). Includes patterns for drumset, piano, bass, guitar, percussion, and what plays what on what style. Also clinic covering original composition techniques.