Born: January 19, 1954 Primary Instrument: Piano
John Serry (b. 1954) was nominated for a Grammy [Best Instrumental Arrangement] for his composition, Sabotage, on his debut album, Exhibition (Chrysalis, 1979). His second album, Jazziz (Chrysalis, 1980), received 4 stars in Downbeat, feature review of the month in Keyboard magazine and it inspired the naming of JAZZIZ magazine by its publisher. In 1995, John was awarded the Grand Prize in the JAZZIZ magazine Keyboards on Fire pianist/composer competition (Dave Brubeck and Bob James, judges; grand piano from Steinway.) John Serry's CD, Enchantress (Telarc, 1996), was well received: He has a strong sense of melody, his touch is confident, his ideas are sensible and his playing is beautifully controlled —Downbeat What a pleasure to find that he is back, still turning out charts that turn heads by turning corners. —Keyboard. Serry has performed at Birdland, the Blue Note, the Montreux Festival, the 606 Club (London), Covent Garden (featured on BBC “Jazz Legends Live”), Steinway Hall and numerous festivals, clubs and venues in the U.S and abroad. Players which have appeared in his groups and recordings include John Riley, Peter Erskine, Carlos Vega, Anthony Jackson, Jimmy Johnson, Bob Sheppard, Gerry Niewood, Ted Nash, Mike Sembello, and Barry Finnerty, among others. His new album, The Shift (SPCo Records), with his London quartet, Dave O'Higgins - sax, Mark Mondesir - drums, Sam Burgess - bass / Mike Mondesir - elec. bass, was released in January 2013. It is available at CD Baby http://cdbaby.com/cd/johnserry , iTunes, Amazon MP3, Google Music Store and other outlets, the Music Store at John's Facebook Musician/Band page, www.facebook.com/johnserry1 and directly from John (firstname.lastname@example.org). Album excerpts (including one complete track) can be heard at www.myspace.com/johnserry. John has lived in Europe since 2004 - London, Spain, Prague, Italy.
John wrote and recorded music for commercials and documentaries in New York in the 1990s. He composed, orchestrated and produced music for documentaries, television and corporate films in Los Angeles in the 1980s and played sessions there for television and film in the late 1970s. He has sometimes played with well known artists, e.g., piano with Patty Austin, BBC Big Band, Doc Severinsen, Kyle Eastwood and percussion with Liza Minnelli, Aretha Franklin. He toured and recorded as pianist/composer with Auracle (1978 LP, Glider, co-produced by Teo Macero.) He has arranged music for artists and sountracks (e.g., The Canadian Brass Gabrielli and Monteverdi CD, Marian McPartland, network tv) and was nominated as an arranger for a Grammy (Sabotage from the 1979 John Serry LP, Exhibition.) He played in several shows on Broadway, the West End (London) and on tour in the U.S and Europe, and has conducted at Radio City Music Hall and was Music Director (at Gateway Playhouse) for Swing, as well as for university productions of Kiss Me Kate and Three Penny Opera.
John has received commissions, performances (Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center) and an award (Percussive Arts Society) for his classical compositions most of which feature percussion, including solos, duos, a percussion ensemble and 2 concertos. The most recent is Groundlines, commissioned by an international consortium of marimba soloists and premiered (Ji Hye Jung) at Percussive Arts Society International Convention 2010. John played percussion on Stravinsky Les Noces at Lincoln Center (Robert Kraft, Musicmasters CD), Bartok Sonata for 2 Pianos and Percussion (California Chamber Symphony) and, in his teens, was soloist on Creston Marimba Concerto (Europe tour) and Milhaud Percussion Concerto (studying with Juilliard Instructor Gordon Gottlieb.) He was awarded Best Pianist, Best Composer and (as a member of Auracle) Best Group at the 1975 Notre Dame Jazz Festival (Sonny Rollins, Jack DeJohnette et al, judges.)
He has taught piano, composition, jazz improvisation, and other subjects as Professor, clinician, workshop/master class instructor, and ensemble coach at numerous university music schools and conservatories, including Juilliard, Peabody, Musicians Institute, Royal Academy (London), University of South Carolina (Director of Jazz), Brooklyn College, Queens College, CCNY (Manhattan), Wichita State University, James Madison University, University of Wisconsin, and Music Academy 2000 (Bologna, Italy.) He has BM (with Distinction) and MM degrees from the Eastman School of Music (Profs. Bill Dobbins, Chuck Mangione, John Beck, Rayburn Wright; workshops/concerts with Joe Farrell, Keith Jarrett, Bill Watrous.)
In addition to The Shift, there is a new John Serry album of solo piano recorded at Steinway in London (release TBA.) John is a native New Yorker, an art enthusiast and frequent traveler.
Awards:Grand Prize, JAZZIZ magazine Keyboards on Fire pianist/composer competition (Dave Brubeck, Bob James judges; grand piano from Steinway, 1995.) Grammy Nomination (Best Instrumental Arrangement for his composition, Sabotage) "Exhibition" LP (Chrysalis, 1979.) 4 stars in Downbeat,"Jazziz" LP(Chrysalis, 1980, also feature review of the month in Keyboard magazine and was the inspiration for the naming of JAZZIZ magazine by publisher Michael Fagien.) Best Pianist, Best Composer/Arranger for a Small Group and Best Combo (in Auracle), 1975 Notre Dame Jazz Festival - Jack DeJohnette, Sonny Rollins, et al, judges. Third Prize (tied with Michael Udow), 1985 Percussive Arts Society composition contest, Concerto for Percussion Brass and Percussion. New York State Regents, Eastman School of Music and Long Island Youth Orchestra scholarship recipient.
What a pleasure to find that he is back, still turning out charts that turn heads by turning corners. —Keyboard.
Brubeck and Bob James ranked him ahead of all...making him the Grand Prize Winner.—Jazziz Magazine
...at his best, John Serry can do it all. —Downbeat
Serry's fleet fingered runs on songs like the jaunty catchy Dyt It are both technically impressive and subtle. His ballads are equally disarming… Heartfelt is warm and resonant... Listen and prepare to be enchanted.—JazzTimes
The strongest aspect of Serry's style is his interlocking rhythms in shifting time signatures...funky hiccupping lines dodge around one another...the forward motion is so compelling...it's a little like being in orbit. Serry achieves a remarkable amount of coloration. —Keyboard
Serry routinely rips through stylistic changes with energy and finesse to burn...a flair for dexterous melodies... a triumph —****(4 stars) Downbeat
Jazziz (1980, EMI Chrysalis Records) 4 stars Downbeat magazine
Enchantress (1996, Telarc)
The Shift (2013,SPCo Records)
Additionally: Present Tense "Carnival of Aliens" (2004) guest pianist; Auracle "Glider" (1978, Chrysalis Records) pno, kbds, composer (4 of the tracks); Stravinsky the Composer, Volume 2 (Music Masters, 1994, Robert Craft conductor) John Serry percussion, Les Noces;
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
John Serry has presented clinics, courses and lessons in piano, percussion, composing / arranging, improvisation, jazz theory, film scoring, MIDI, and the music business. He has performed, taught and coached ensembles at Juilliard, Peabody, Musicians Institute, NYU, City College (NYC), Queens College, Brooklyn College, SUNY Binghamton, Univ. of Wisconsin, Univ. of S. Carolina (Director of Jazz), Wichita State Univ. (2 residencies), and the Royal Academy of Music (London). He has degrees from the Eastman School of Music (MM and BM with Distinction).
Workshop/seminar/master class - improvisation, composition, harmony, theory; also one-on-one with pianists, composers/arrangers, drummers/percussionists