Distinguished composer-pianist Dave Burrell is a performing artist of singular stature on the international contemporary music scene. His dynamic compositions, with blues and gospel roots recall the tradition of Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson and Duke Ellington. After majoring in music at the University of Hawaii, he enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1961. After graduating with degrees in composition/arranging and performance in 1965, he moved to New York City, where he quickly established himself as one of the most innovative and original pianists, collaborating with the emerging leaders in contemporary jazz.
Burrell’s Jazz Opera Windward Passages, written in collaboration with Swedish-born poet/lyricist Monika Larsson, blends opera voices with world class jazz soloists, a 21-piece jazz opera orchestra, dancers and chorus. Seldom has the classically trained voice played such a unique improvising roll as in this important, ground-breaking endeavor. Burrell’s dance drama, Holy Smoke, with blue-print by Monika Larsson, is being developed for modern dance and tap. Burrell’s Suite for Violin and Piano is completed and will be orchestrated for symphony orchestra.
Dave Burrell was recently featured on NPR’s nationally syndicated show Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross. In January, 2006 Burrell performed solo piano at a symposium, The Lomax Legacy: Folklore in a Globalizing Century, presented by American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Washington, D.C.