Distinguished composer-pianist Dave Burrell is an African-American 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, as well avant garde composers Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.

Dave and his parents moved from Harlem, New York to Hawaii in 1946.  After majoring in music at the University of Hawaii, he enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts graduating with degrees in composition/arranging and performance in 1965.  He moved back 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, joining the groups of tenor saxophonists Marion Brown, Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp.

Burrell’s jazz opera Windward Passages, written in collaboration with Swedish born librettist Monika Larsson, blends opera voices with world class jazz instrumentalists, 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.  As a composer–in-residence at Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, commissions include “Look Again” - African-American History IS American History: Bill of Sale for a Slave. (2007), Syllables of the Poetry of Marianne Moore (2008), Western Extension of the United States of America 1811 (2009).    In 2010 Burrell launched a 5 year project at the museum, American Civil War: 1861-1865.  Portraits of Civil War Heroes (2011), Civilians During War Time (2012) and Turning Point with guest trombonist Steve Swell (2013). A live performance CD, Turning Point was released to great critical acclaim  (NoBusiness Records 2014), followed by Listening to Lincoln (2014) and Ode to a Prairie Lawyer with guest soprano Veronica Chapman-Smith and lyricist Monika Larsson (2015).  Burrell and Larsson are currently developing a suite from the commissioned American Civil War score: From Emancipation to Assassination.

Dave Burrell appears regularly on national and international radio broadcasts, NPR’s Bi-Centennial Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton, Dr. Jazz; Duke Ellington’s Centennial Duke and the Piano; Louis Armstrong’s The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong, and Leonard Bernstein: An American Life,Dave Burrell was featured on NPR’s nationally syndicated show Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross,Burrell performed the music of Jelly Roll Morton solo piano, The Lomax Legacy: Folklore in a Globalizing Century symposium presented by American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  RAI, Italy released Dave Burrell Plays His Songs on RAI Trade.

Recent solo piano performances: Le Mans Jazz Festival, France, Sala Venni, Florence, San Servolo Meeting, Venice, Italy, Berlin Brandenburg Jazz Festival, and his solo piano after hours performances Dave Burrell ‘Round Midnight at Bimhuis, Amsterdam, Holland., The next weekly engagement at Bimhuis is scheduled for the spring of 2017. On March 4, 2017 Dave will perform solo piano as the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and at Teatro Vittoria in Sicily, Italy on March 26.  Recent duos include jazz vocalist Leena Conquest: Catanzaro, Italy and Theatre Paul Eluard, Cugnaux, France; Archie Shepp: Duc des Lombardes, Paris, France; Han Bennink: Philadelphia Art Alliance; saxophonist Silke Eberhard:  Berlin Jazz Festival, Institute Francais, Berlin; William Parker at the Sons d’Iver Festival Le Kremlin-Bicetre, Paris, France, and most recently in duos with Andrew Cyrille and Steve Swell in Houston, Texas in 2016. Dave Burrell Trio performed at Casa di Popolo Jazz Festival, Montreal, Poisson Rouge, New York.  “and he will be presenting his work from his latest suite, written in collaboration with librettist Monika Larsson at Filharmonica Laudamo at Teatro Messina, Sicily Italy on March 26, 2017 with soloist Veronica Fedullo and Creative Orchestra, American Civil War: 1861-1865. Dave Burrell Quartet with Kidd Jordan, William Parker and William Hooker will perform at Vision 22 Festival on June 2, 2017.

Burrell wrote an original score to Louis Massiah’s award-winning documentary WEB Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices (1996), Oscar Micheaux’s 1925 silent black and white film Body and Soul featured on his High Two recording Momentum (2006).  Dave Burrell and Leena Conquest appear in Frank Cassenti’s  documentary  Billy Holiday Forever (Paris, France 2012).  

Dave Burrell has 40 recordings under his own name, among them High, High Two, Echo, La Vie de Boheme, After Love, In-Sanity, Only Me, Dreams, Black Spring, Lush Life, ‘Round Midnight, Teardrops for Jimmy, Windward Passages, Daybreak, Brother to Brother, In Concert, Jelly Roll Joys, Esquisses for a Walk, Live at Caramoor, Changes and Chances, Recital, Expansion, Margy Pargy, Momentum, Dave Burrell Plays His Songs, No Fools No Fun,  Dave Burrell Conception Dave Burrell Conception, Turning Point, The Other Side of Midnite, The Crave: Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart Play the Music of Jelly Roll Morton and Dave Burrell.  Dave Burrell appears on an additional 130 recordings, among them his pivotal recordings with tenor saxophonists Archie Shepp: Live from Pan-African Festival, There is a Trumpet in MySoul, Blasé, Kwanza, Attica Blues, Cry of My People, Montreaux One, Montreaux Two, Lover Man, Pharoah Sanders: Tauhid, Marion Brown: Jubalee, Three For Shepp, Live in Japan, David Murray: Hope Scope, Lovers, Deep River, Ballads, Spirituals, Remembrances, Lucky Four, Picasso, Windward Passages. Other important recordings are 360 Degree Music Experience: From Ragtime to No Time, In:sanity, Grachan Moncur: New Africa, Sunny Murray: Homage to Africa, Bob Stewart: Here and Now, and Consequences with drummer Billy Martin.  The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield and Essence of Ellington with William Parker’s Ensembles.  Horo Records in Italy recently released a live duo recording, No Fools No Fun with Ellington-drummer Sam Woodyard from a 2 months long engagement in Paris (1979).  Dave Burrell appears on the Argentine saxophonist Roberto Pettinato’s Sony/Columbia Argentina Records releases Purity and Same Egg.  A live duo recording with guitarist Garrison Fewell, New Earth was released in 2016. Trandans, with Ab Baars and Ig Henneman was released in February, and a duo recording from his summer 1979-sessions with Ellington drummer Sam Woodyard will be released in 2017. 

A frequent lecturer, Burrell’s Master Classes include Strasbourg Conservatory, Tremblay Conservatory (Paris), Conservatoire Municipal (Paris), Guildhall School of Music and Dance (London), Columbia University, New York University, Queens College, Bard College, New York.  University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, Duquesne University, School of Music, Pennsylvania. Brandeis University and Berklee, Massachusetts. Rice University, Houston, Texas. DePauw University, Indiana.  Library of Congress and Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.  Burrell’s most recent commissions include Rosenbach  Museum and Library, Philadelphia, and Whitney Museum, New York City.

Dave Burrell is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including National Endowment for the Arts, Philadelphia Music Foundation, William J. Cooper Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Pennsylvania State Council on The Arts, MidAtlantic Foundation, John Garcia Gensel Award, and the Pew Fellowship in Jazz Composition.

Dave Burrell joined the Steinway Artist Roster (www.Steinway.com) in 2007.

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Dave Burrell Biography (pdf)

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Dave Burrell interview with Clifford Allen (pdf)

Listening to Lincoln: Dave Burrell's Civil War Concerts
An ear-opening musical evocation of a Civil War massacre (pdf)

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