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Jerry Engelbach

When I was 15, an accordianist friend showed me the meaning of those little letter-and-number symbols above the staff, and I subsequently discovered that I was able to play tunes without having to actually read music.

Since then, playing jazz affords me more enjoyment than anything else in life. That says a lot, as I've studied art at Cooper Union, classical music theory with Peter Schickele at Juilliard (one term), poetry at The New School, and acting at various places, and I've been an art gallery owner, toy company executive, actor and musical director for the Classic Stage Company, founder and artistic director of the Soho Repertory Theatre in New York, instructor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and a graphic designer with many blue-chip clients. And I learned to fly a plane, I ski in the winter, and I play tennis every week.

Oh, yes, I did learn to read music.

I have a gift for lyricism and lots of energy, playing weddings, parties, and corporate bashes. I've worked at many posh places, including the Tavern on the Green, the Rainbow Room, the Carlyle, the Copacobana, the Four Seasons, the Water Club, the River Cafe, the Metronome Club, the Palm House at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the sailing ship Peking at the South Street Seaport, and even the East Village health food restaurant Caravan of Dreams (who hasn't?).

I'm more impressed by lyrical invention then virtuosic technique. Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans are my main inspirations, with a big nod to Mal Waldron. I had a long stint with the Rifftide Jazz Trio, and now play regularly with my own combo, Weaver of Dreams, with first-rate and under-rated tenorman Dan Greenblatt (author of “The Blues Scales: Essential Tools for Jazz Improvisation,” Sher Music), the ubiquitous and very upright bassist Ed Fuqua (author of “Learning the Bassics,” Sher Music), and the I-forced-him-out-of-retirement drummer Steve Jackson. And if we're lucky, we get added vocals by the versatile and greatest Amy London.

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