Pianist Kris Bowers is one of the newest and brightest lights on the jazz landscape. Schooled in jazz and classical music, raised amid the rap and hip- hop of the 1990s, inspired by the cinematic power of the great film composers of recent decades, Bowers’ sound – though rooted in traditional styles – is open to numerous external influences that keep the music fresh and vibrant for a new century. This rich and eclectic sensibility is evident from the very first notes of Heroes + Misfits, his debut recording on Concord Jazz.
Bowers' musical sensibilities were taking shape before he even saw the light of day. The story has it that his parents positioned headphones on his mother’s belly and piped soft jazz directly into his evolving consciousness in the months before he was born. And it was just the beginning.
Born in 1989 in Los Angeles, Bowers was raised by parents whose tastes ran to Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power, Marvin Gaye and other purveyors of old-school R&B and funk. He was learning the rudiments of piano via the Suzuki method by the time he was four, and taking private lessons at age nine. By the time he reached middle school, he had developed his ear to the point where he could learn the pop music of the day just by turning on a radio, picking up melodies and harmonies, and developing improvisational lines.
Despite his parents’ retro sensibilities, Bowers’ tastes leaned more toward the rap and hip-hop of the 1990s. In addition, he was drawn to the music of Howard Shore, Michael Giacchino, John Williams, Danny Elfman, John Powell and other high-profile film composers. Inspired by the diversity of music in the world around him and frustrated by the restrictions of his classical training, he threatened to give up the piano, so his parents countered by enrolling him in jazz lessons.