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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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”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,, 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

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Primary Instrument



Brooklyn, NY

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.

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)

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8 Photos


Eye to Eye
Eye to Eye



Bill Evans Bill Evans
Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
Tony Bennett Tony Bennett
Greg Diamond Greg Diamond
guitar, electric
Omer Klein Omer Klein
Stacy Dillard Stacy Dillard
John Chin
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