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Carmen Staaf

Born: February 9, 1981    Primary Instrument: Piano

Carmen Staaf

'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)....
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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).
”Carmen Staaf is a remarkably mature young pianist, with a wide palette and secure rhythmic base. In short, she swings! Her command of language anchors a very secure improvisatory base and she has an extremely developed musical sense. A most impressive pianist.” - Trombonist/composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer, 2004

“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

As a Leader: "Eye to Eye" Fractamodi 2011 Tracks: Prospect, Petit Moineau, Inner Lover, Rory, Merry Go Round, Aries, The Game, Blackbird. Personnel: Kendall Eddy, bass; Austin McMahon, drums. "Reflection" Fractamodi 2008 Tracks: Little Dance, Hole in the Sky, Mariana, Interlude, Human, Reflection, A Flower is a Lovesome Thing, Dog Park, Suite Part I, Suite Part II, Suite Part III, Ice. Personnel: Carmen Staaf, piano and accordion; Daniel Blake, saxes; Brian Landrus, bass clarinet; Dana Sandler, voice; Jorge Roeder, bass; Austin McMahon, drums. As a Co-Leader: "The Staaf Quartet" 2004 Tracks: Play Time, Bluebell Waltz, Stingray Stomp, Considering, Folk Song, Big Foot Blues, Clouds, Now is the Hour Personnel: Carl Staaf, tenor sax; Carmen Staaf, piano; Michael Glynn, bass; Mark Ivester, drums. As a Sideperson: Prana Trio, "The Singing Image of Fire" Circavision 2009 Tracks: The Drop and the Sea, Singing Image of Fire, Kangbyunsalja, Out Beyond Ideas, I Felt Love, Courteous to the Ant, Incredible Urge, Endless is my Wealth, The Man Who Wasn't There, In Our Idleness, Cold Mountain Path, Blindfolded Personnel: Brian Adler, drum set, tablas, cajon, melodica; Sunny Kim, voice; Carmen Staaf, piano, accordion; Frank Carlberg, piano; Matt Aronoff, acoustic bass; Robert Lanzetti, guitar; Nathan Goheen, electric bass. "Four Across" Circavision 2008 Tracks: Through The Window, Can I Play, Baboonij, Monkey Politics, Climbing the Spiral, I Felt Love, One Breath Away, Intents and Purposes, Paradigm, You Are That, Words on a Piece of Paper Personnel: Josh Deutsch, trumpet, flugelhorn; Carmen Staaf, piano, accordion; Kendall Eddy, bass; Brian Adler, drums. Austin McMahon, "Many Muses" Fractamodi 2008 Tracks: Vidrio, Platone, Part 1, I.O.U., Elephant Walk, Not as it Seems, Strife, Sevilla, Don't Know Yet, Proof, Platone (reprise), After Paris Personnel: Austin McMahon, drums, melodica, percussion; Alec Spiegelman, clarinets; Carmen Staaf, piano, accordion, rhodes; Kendall Eddy, bass. The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, "Muse" Creative Nation Music 2008 Tracks: Eshel Sketch, A Little Brook, Vinifera, Laced With Love, Dear John, To Michael Brecker, Snow Place Like Home, Simple Personnel: Ayn Inserto, director, composer, conductor; George Garzone, soprano sax, tenor sax; Allan Chase, saxes; Rick Stone, reeds; Kelly Roberge, reeds; Sean Berry, reeds; Brian Landrus, reeds; Jeff Claassen, lead trumpet; John Replogle, trumpet; Will Caviness, trumpet; Matthew Small, trumpet; David Hickok, trombone; Tim Lienhard, trombone; Jennifer Wharton, bass trombone; Mark Cocheo, guitar; Carmen Staaf, piano; Kendall Eddy, bass; Austin McMahon, drums. Richie Barshay, "Homework" Barshay Music 2005 Tracks: Clouds - intro, Homework, Peacock, Return Voyage, Trinkle Tinkle, Rucutucupla - interlude, Clouds, The Last Gasp, no u don't, Sim Shalom/Prayer for Peace, Rucutucupla, Exhale Personnel: Richie Barshay, drum set, percussion; Daniel Blake, saxes; Jorge Roeder, basses; Herbie Hancock, piano; Reinaldo de Jesus, congas, percussion; Aoife O'Donovan, voice; Michael Winograd, clarinet; Carmen Staaf, accordion; Josh Feinberg, sitar. Has also recorded with: Kendall Eddy (new release due out December 2009); Kenji Shinagawa ("Perhaps, Drawing Again"); Layla Angulo; Wenda Zonnefeld ("Latina by Proxy", featuring Don Lanphere); Peter Kenagy.

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Primary Instrument:
Piano

Location:
Brooklyn, NY

Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students

Credentials/Background:
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.

Clinic/Workshop Information:
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.

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