Primary Instrument: Piano
Pianist and Composer, Joe Chindamo was born in Melbourne in 1961, the eldest son of Italian immigrants, who came to Australia in search of a better life. At the age of 6, he was encouraged by his parents to take up a musical instrument: the accordion. He immediately fell in love with music and the idea of creating it. At the tender age of 13 he won the televised talent quest Kevin Dennis' New Faces and, a year later, Bernard King's Pot ‘O' Gold (also a nationally televised talent quest). Along with his brother, Domenic, on drums, Joe spent most Saturday nights playing accordion at local Italian functions. On the day of his 14th birthday, he made his first record. The record company closed its doors only months before it was due to be released, so it never became available to the public.
Tiring of the histrionics that went with performing on the accordion (all that smiling made me nauseous) and inspired by the great pianist Oscar Peterson, Joe switched, at the age of 15, to the piano. Soon he was working with the well-known band leader Denis Farrington and other musicians twice his age during the 70's. Meanwhile, at home he taught himself jazz piano. He studied the recordings of the great jazz pianists, wrote out their solos, then duplicated them on his piano.
At 18, Joe attended Melbourne State College, where he received his first formal piano lesson and studied classical music for the first time. He soon became the preferred pianist of just about every film composer in town, including Bruce Smeaton, Brian May, Bruce Rowlands, Nigel Westlake and Paul Grabowsky, and later, of visiting international composers, Jerry Goldsmith and Angelo Badalamenti.
Joe's playing has adorned more than 60 films, including Pharlap, Man from Snowy River 2, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Evil Angels and Babe. He has accompanied Shirley Bassey, recorded with Vince Jones, Olivia Newton John, Christine Sullivan and Yvonne Kenny, orchestrated and conducted a string orchestra for Peter Andre, and played with Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Caroline O'Conner and Don Burrows.
He has toured extensively through Europe, the US, Japan and Argentina and recorded & played with international jazz artists such as the late Ray Brown, Billy Cobham, Lee Konitz, Mike and Randy Brecker, Frank Morgan, Mark Turner, Ernie Watts, Ravi Coltrane, Larry Coryell & James Morrison.
When Billy Cobham first heard Chindamo play in 1990, he immediately asked him to join his group and tour internationally. This association has led to seventeen major tours throughout America, Europe, Japan and Argentina as well as two international recordings (The Traveller and By Design).
Joe has to date recorded 10 CDs as leader. His debut recording entitled A Brief History of Standard time, featuring legendary US bassist Ray Brown and Australian drummer Andrew Gander achieved wide acclaim. In late 1997, a second CD and an ARIA nominated release entitled Anyone Who Had a Heart, featuring Chindamo's highly personal arrangements of eight Burt Bacharach songs also met with critical and public acclaim, winning the ABC Listeners' Choice award for Best Australian CD of 1997. Following this, Joe's third recording, Reflected Journey, was released worldwide by A Records in 1998: this CD features Michael and Randy Brecker.
In July 1999, Chindamo was awarded an Australia Arts Council Grant to perform and represent Australia with his trio (bassist Ben Robertson and drummer Dave Beck) at major Jazz Festivals in Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Finland. He lived in Paris throughout most of 1999 where he worked with the celebrated guitarist Christian Escoude.
The year 2000 saw the release of Good Little Ploy which features Joe's original compositions and orchestrations, performed by his own trio and 20 strings from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Later this same year ABC TV filmed a 20 minute story entitled Joe Chindamo--Profile of a Jazz Pianist. Joe was also featured in the 5th episode of 'The Pulse' a television documentary show casing the cream of Australia's jazz musicians.
More recently, his very successful ARIA nominated CD Joy of Standards reached number 1 on the HMV modern jazz charts in Japan, the first Australian artist to have achieved this distinction. A Vol. 2 edition was released in January 2003 to wide acclaim reaching number 3 on the HMV modern jazz charts.
He was invited back to France in July 2002 to tour with such US luminaries as Mark Turner and Ravi Coltrane (son of John Coltrane). He is becoming a regular performer at Australian festivals, most notably, The Perth, The Wangaratta Jazz and The Port Fairy Music Festivals.
Never one to rest on his laurels he travelled to Italy on at least 3 occasions throughout the past 15 years in order to further his classical piano studies. His teachers in Naples were Alexander Hincef and Massimo Bertuccio.
In June 2002 Joe's talent was recognised by the Australian music industry--he was awarded the 2002 Australian Entertainment 'MO' Award for Instrumental Jazz Performer of the Year. He was nominated for the same award in 2003 and won it again in 2004.
In January 2005 Joe appeared at Umbria Jazz Winter in Orvieto, Italy . His performances were so well received that one critic hailed him (along with the very famous jazz pianist Brad Meldau) as one of the two highlights of the festival. The festival included names such as Marcel Solal, Cedar Walton and Bill Charlap. The newspaper heading read' Everybody knows that Meldau is a great jazz pianist, but the Umbrian discovery is named Chindamo.
Later in 2005 he performed in India and again in Italy at Umbria Jazz in Perugia, where he joined a distinguished lineup of jazz greats, including Oscar Peterson and Tony Bennett. (Joe recorded his first solo CD, Joe Chindamo, Solo--Live At Umbria Jazz 05 at this festival).
In August he performed in Taiwan (with James Morrison and Idea of North) and in November was invited by the Australian/Israeli Cultural Exchange to play in Israel, where he gave a concert in Tel Aviv and a nationally televised solo recital at the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem.
In December, he performed at Norfolk Island, with Don Burrows and James Morrison.
In May, Joe was featured prominently at the Melbourne Jazz Festival (a.k.a. Umbria Jazz in Melbourne), with his quartet, with guest, Australian saxophone legend, Graeme Lyall and in duet with the amazing James Morrison. James and Joe hit it off so well that the two musicians decided to team up and record. Their first collaborative CD, James Morrison and Joe Chindamo 2X2, was recorded in September 2005 and will be released in early 2006.
Continuing his mutual love affair with Japanese audiences, Chindamo's CD, America--Joe Chindamo Trio plays the Paul Simon Song Book, was released in Japan in March 2005 and reached number 2 on that country's HMV Modern Jazz Charts. This is Chindamo's third release in Japan, all three CDs becoming best sellers.
In 2005, Joe also completed a two year Australia Council Fellowship (awarded in 2003) which enabled him to turn his hand to classical composition. Paying homage to his childhood instrument, he composed a modern orchestral work, Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra. Under the auspices of the grant he has produced two CDs and 10 compositions and orchestrations for the Melbourne based Bennett's Lane Big Band.