Born: February 9, 1981 Primary Instrument: Piano
'Winner of the festival's piano competition last year, Staaf could have earned a small slot on the program on the strength of her technique alone. What stood out, though, were her compositions, particularly the fanciful Merry Go Round, and her trio's fresh interpretation of Denzil Best's 45 Degree Angle, a Williams favorite.' - David Malitz, The Washington Post (review of the 2010 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival opening night concert at the Kennedy Center).
'Next to take the stage was Carmen Staaf, winner of the 2009 Mary Lou Williams Pianist Competition. Performing with a trio, Staaf presented a mix of original compositions and pieces somehow related to Williams. For each, Staaf provided a detailed explanation of its origins, adding a heartfelt explanation of her respect for William's music and generosity of spirit. Equally sincere in her playing, Staaf delivered clearly articulated ideas, particularly on her own well-structured original compositions. Of particular note was her solo piece Rory.' - Frank A. Matzner, All About Jazz, June 24, 2010 (Mary Lou Williams Festival review)....
Awards:2009 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Pianist Competition winner. 2005 St. Botolph Club Foundation Grant-in-Aid Award winner. 2007 Berklee College of Music Faculty Fellowship for "Reflection" recording project. 2004 Sisters in Jazz Piano chair winner. Phi Beta Kappa, University Scholar, Anthropology Prize winner and summa cum laude (Tufts University). George Whitefield Chadwick Award, Pi Kappa Lambda (New England Conservatory).
“A new star to discover…a wonderfully melodic and inventive keyboardist.” -Michael G. Nastos, Allmusic.com, 2009
Winner of the festival's piano competition last year, Staaf could have earned a small slot on the program on the strength of her technique alone. What stood out, though, were her compositions, particularly the fanciful Merry Go Round, and her trio's fresh interpretation of Denzil Best's 45 Degree Angle, a Williams favorite. - David Malitz, The Washington Post (review of the 2010 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival opening night concert at the Kennedy Center).
“[Reflection is] lovely work, heartfelt and lyrical...I love it when I can hear an artist's personality in her or his work.” -John Chacona, writer for Signal to Noise and CODA, 2009
Staaf came up with a subtly crafted, wonderfully realized arrangement of swing and professional quality. -Craig Jolley, All About Jazz, www.allaboutjazz.com, 2005
Pianist/accordionist Carmen Staaf is quite extraordinary... - Ari Davidow, www.klezmershack.com, 2004
“The heroes of this performance are the musicians, particularly accordionist Carmen Staaf...Staaf provides the piece with the appropriate Brecht-Weill vibe...” -David Johnston, www.nytheatre.com, 2008
“'Reflection' is profoundly beautiful...One of the best things I've heard in years” -Bud Young, KBCS FM 91.3, Seattle, WA, 2008
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Taught at Berklee College of Music in the Piano Department for four years (2005-2009). Private instruction to students of all ages and levels, with an emphasis on improvisation as well as the foundations of classical technique.
I offer clinics on jazz improvisation for beginners (working with the basics of blues, call-and-response, and swing feel); intermediate students (broadening repertoire and exploring Afro-Cuban and Brazilian influences in jazz); and advanced students (motivic improvisation, advanced jazz harmony and free improvisation). Additionally, I give jazz piano clinics that incorporate improvisational concepts and vocabulary specific to the piano in the jazz tradition, as well as technical considerations for pianists. I also offer a clinic on non-genre-specific improvisational and compositional techniques, including game pieces, text settings, and set theory.