Born: December 12, 1987 Primary Instrument: Piano
Zack graduated in 2010 with a Bachelors of Music degree in Piano Performance from the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. At IU, Zack worked closely with international performing artist Luke Gillespie - jazz piano performance, Brent Wallarab - Jazz Ensemble director, and Pulitzer Prize winner David Baker - Jazz Studies department chair.
Zack started playing piano at age 7, taking his first classes at the Levine Music School in Washington D.C. At age 8, he switched to private lessons with a veteran pianist named Patricia Houston. His first exposure to jazz came in Middle School, when he joined the Levine School jazz band. During this time he also attended the Washington-Lee High School summer jazz camp where he worked with veteran artists like Steve Novosel, Lennie Cuje, and Gary Joynes. The Levine jazz band performed at many venues of note including the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the German Embassy in Washington, DC.
Zack played percussion in the Washington-Lee symphonic orchestra, but thrived in the school’s jazz band and jazz combo. Zack was awarded the school’s Duke Ellington Jazz Award at the end of both his junior and senior years and attended the Eastman School of Music summer jazz camp following his junior year. During this time, Zack studied with Tony Nalker, the excellent pianist from Pershing’s Own The Army Blues Big Band. The high school jazz band played in numerous local and national competitions, twice performed at Blues Alley in Washington D.C., and at several events sponsored by Blues Alley. At Eastman, Zack studied with, among other faculty, pianist Harold Danko and trumpeter Clay Jenkins.
Jazz performance is Zack’s passion. As a freshman in high school, Zack formed a jazz combo that continues to play at local clubs, private parties, and functions. Some of these venues include the Georgetown Club, Twins Jazz, Bangkok Blues and the Democratic National Convention. With the Washington-Lee jazz combo, he performed at the 2006 Charlie Christian Jazz Festival in Oklahoma City. In early 2007, he was sent as the leader of a trio to perform at the Capital Jazz Fest at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He has also performed in the Bloomington, Indiana area at local clubs and functions and, in the summer of 2008, had the opportunity to play on four occasions with the Midcoast Swing Orchestra at the legendary Jazz Kitchen Indianapolis. In the summer of 2009, Zack was personally invited by jazz living legend David Baker to attend the Steans Institute for Young Artists in Highland Park, IL, where he studied jazz composition and performance with Baker, James Moody, Rufus Reid, and Nathaniel Davis. At the Steans Institute he had the opportunity to work and perform with some of the other leading performers of his generation, including Will and Peter Reardon-Anderson, Roy Assaf, Monk Competition winner Joe Johnson, Ben Bolasny, and Clifton Wallace.
More recently, Zack has served as a member of the Jay Ware Trio and Quintet, a group that does educational residencies at both the high school and college level, focusing on the fundamentals of jazz education. In March of 2010, Zack gave his senior jazz recital at Indiana University, performing all original compositions. He was subsequently nominated for the American Pianists Association’s Cole Porter Jazz Fellowship, currently the most prestigious award for jazz piano in the world. In July 2010, he helped organize a fundraiser for Haitian musicians, where he performed and raised over a thousand dollars. In January 2011, the Zack Cross Trio recorded its first LP, entitled “Up/Under.”
Awards:2011 American Pianists Association Cole Porter Jazz Fellowship nominee. 2009 Steans Institute for Young Artists In Jazz. 2006 Duke Ellington Jazz Award, Washington-Lee High School. 2005 Duke Ellington Jazz Award, Washington-Lee High School.
What excellent playing - and I liked your tunes, too (especially His Wisdom) --Tony Nalker, pianist in The Army Blues, upon hearing Zack's album Up/Under
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Willing to teach:
Zack focuses on the fundamentals of approaching the piano and establishing a sympathetic connection to the instrument. Available by appointment 7 days a week $30/hr