Born: December 10, 1947 Primary Instrument: Piano
Jim and Martha Hession have been fixtures on the jazz scene for decades.
Jim Hession grew up in Pasadena, California, where he studied piano with composer Oscar Rasbach. By the time he was 20, Jim was a fixture in the traditional jazz scene, with his incredibly accurate two-handed piano style. A founding member of the Maple Leaf Club, Jim received his degree in composition from U.C.L.A., where he studied under Paul Chihara and Lalo Schifrin. Jim then met and began recording with the legendary Eubie Blake. While recording with Eubie Blake in New York, Jim began exploring more contemporary jazz venues, while retaining his handle on traditional jazz styles like ragtime, stride and boogie-woogie.
Martha Hession grew up in San Diego, California, where she began her piano and vocal studies. Martha attended San Diego State University, and U.C.L.A. with Jim. After teaching piano and a stint as a Montessori instructor, Martha began singing professionally with Jim.
Jim and Martha began their professional association with the Walt Disney Company in 1967. After performing at Disneyland, they were selected to be the first entertainers to open Walt Disney World in 1971. Later, Jim and Martha returned to California and continued their association at Disneyland and the Disneyland resorts until relocating to the Gulf Coast in 2003. In addition, over the years they have performed in innumerable music venues, from concert halls to jazz lounges.
Jim and Martha Hession have performed with such luminaries as Teddy Wilson, Eubie Blake, Al Hirt, Bob Crosby, Johnny Guarnieri, Max Morath, Shelton Brooks, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, and Disney songwriters the Sherman Brothers.
In addition to their musical appearances, Jim and Martha have acquired an incredible knowledge of the history of American music. They hold one of the largest (85,000+) privately-held collections of original sheet music in the United States. Using their education and resources, Jim and Martha have lectured at many colleges and educational venues across the country.
Whether performing as a jazz duo, headlining the American Jazz Quintet, TV appearances, producing stage shows, historical lectures or all request programs, Jim and Martha Hession bring a level of talent and versatility not often found on the music scene.
...pianist Jim Hession's mastery of stride, boogie and so much more gets everyone smiling, not to mention swaying and stomping, from the jump. Lee Horvitz (6.2008) American Travel Journal
Talented and versatile pianist Jim Hession has an eclectic mix on his new piano CD, revealing his technical skills and powerful left hand... Tom Jacobson,Mississippi Rag (8.2008)
Martha sang Billie Holiday's 'Lover Man' with ease, one of the 10,000 tunes in their repertoire...Jim is the most electrifying pianist I have ever heard-brilliant,talented and issues a relaxed sense of professional candor... -David Cate,Tri-Cities TN Citizen Blog(9.2007)
Their musical credentials are impeccable. But the great gift of Jim & Martha Hession is the showmanship with which they create the sound and style, decade by decade, of this century's American popular song. Jim Hession is a master of stride piano technique and modern interpretive jazz arrangements. -John Mahoney, Los Angeles Times
Interpretive arrangements showcase their skills most dazzlingly. -Daily Variety
There is no one else like Jim Hession. If there is a definition of jazz, that is it. -Dean Johnson, Orlando Sentinel-Star
I'm a fan of the Hessions. They have entertained and excited me with their music in the years since we met. -Max Morath
...pros like the Lion (Willie The Lion Smith and Jim Hession, a young pianist out in California. Oh, he gives me fits every time I hear him - people like Fatha Hines, the Lion, Jim Hession, they give me fits. -Eubie Blake
...[Martha's] operatic training was obvious as she moved her four-octave voice into the high range, where even Ella can get a little soft. But Hession is in solid jazz vibrato. -Lawrence Enscoe, Los Angeles Daily News