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 as 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 alto saxophonist Marion Brown, and tenor saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp.
Burrell's Jazz Opera Windward Passages, written in collaboration with Swedish-born poet 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. Dave Burrell and the Ararat Orchestra will perform excerpts of his jazz opera Windward Passages at Novara Festival, Italy on January 20, 2018.
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, 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 (NoBusiness Records was released to great critical acclaim in 2015). Listening to Lincoln (2014) and Ode to a Prairie Lawyer (2015) followed with guest soprano Veronica Chapman-Smith and lyricist Monika Larsson. Burrell and Larsson were artists-in-residence at Filarmonica Laudamo Sicily, Italy culminating in a live performance at Teatro Messina, with soprano Veronica Cardullo and the Creative Orchestra: American Civil War: 1861-1865: Part V in March, 2017.
The American Civil War-project is now being developed into a full-length suite: From Emancipation to Assassination, arranged for a mixture of piano, voice and guest soloists.
A current work-in-progress, Variations: Full-Blown Rhapsody will premiere at the New York-based Vision 23 Festival where Dave Burrell will receive a Life-Time Achievement Award on May 23, 2018.
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. and RAI, Italy.
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, University of the Arts, Philadelphia and at Teatro Vittoria in Sicily, Italy. Burrell will perform a solo conceret at Amherst, Mass on April 19, 2018.
Recent duos with Leena Conquest: Catanzaro, Italy and Theatre Paul Eluard, Cugnaux, France; Archie Shepp: Duc des Lombardes, Paris, France; Han Bennink: Philadelphia Art Alliance; Silke Eberhard: Berlin Jazz Festival and Institute Francais, Berlin; William Parker at the Sons d'Iver Festival Le Kremlin-Bicetre, France,. Andrew Cyrille and Steve Swell in Houston, Texas, and Andrew Cyrille at Constellation, Chicago. Dave Burrell and Steve Swell will be at Edmonton Jazz Festival on March 24, 2018 and at Yardbird Suite March 31, 2018
Recent trios William Parker and Hamid Drake Vison Festival, New York, Casa di Popolo Jazz Festival, Montreal, and Poisson Rouge, New York. Dave Burrell Quartet with Kidd Jordan, William Parker and William Hooker at Vision 22 Festival in 2016.
Dave Burrell will join Kidd Jordan Quartet at Columbia University, NYC for the Satchmo Award on October 12, Steve Swell Quintet at EdgeFest in Ann Arbor on October 21, and with the Ararat Orchestra at the Novara Festival in Italy on January 20, 2018.
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 release, Momentum (2006). Dave Burrell and Leena Conquest appear in Frank Cassenti's documentary Billy Holiday Forever (Paris, France 2012).
Dave Burrell has recorded over 40 recordings under his own name, among them are High, High Two, Echo, La Vie de Boheme, After Love, In-Sanity, Only Me, Dreams, Black Spring, Lush Life, Dave Burrell Plays Ellington and Monk, ‘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, Consequences, Margy Pargy, Momentum, Dave Burrell Plays His Songs, No Fools No Fun, 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. A duo with guitarist Garrison Fewell, New Earth was released in 2016. Trandans (Wig, Holland) with Ab Baars and Ig Henneman was released in 2017.
Dave Burrell appears on an additional 130 recordings, among them his pivotal recordings with saxophonists Archie Shepp: Live from Pan-African Festival, There is a Trumpet in My Soul, Blase, Kwanza, Attica Blues, Cry of My People, Montreux One, Montreux 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. 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. Dave Burrell appears on the Argentine saxophonist Roberto Pettinato's Sony/Columbia Argentina Records Purity with Henry Grimes and Tyshawn Sorey, and Same Egg with Tyshawn Sorey. Soul Travelers (Rouge Art) with Steve Swell Quintet and Celebrating William Parker @65 (NotTwo) with Bobby Zankel's The Wonderful Sound 6 were 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., Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia, and at the Harvard Club 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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