Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jazz piano virtuoso brings musical history to Harris Center

Jon Weber

JON WEBER is appearing at Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26. Courtesy photo

Jon Weber, a spectacular solo pianist, whose brilliantly crafted spontaneous orchestrations easily place him in the rarefied company of today’s elite jazz musicians, has been praised by All About Jazz as “a virtuoso — pure and simple.”

Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway in Folsom, will serve as the venue for Weber as he presents “From Joplin to Jarrett: 100 Years of Piano Jazz” beginning Thursday, Jan. 23.

“Joplin to Jarret” serves as a concise history of jazz piano with an emphasis on the earlier composers from the first half of the 20th century.

More than 100 years of music interspersed with musical excerpts with Weber’s insights and anecdotes reveal a lifetime’s worth of impassioned research. His extraordinary facility for recall and analysis allow him to form fascinating and unexpected connections between artists of different eras, their development and influences in jazz piano.

Jazz pianist Weber has recorded and toured all over the world, winning numerous honors for performance and composition — scoring extensively for television since 1987.

Gary Burton, Roy Hargrove, Niels-Henning, Ørsted Pedersen and Avishai Cohen have all recorded Weber’s music and his newest critically-acclaimed release, “Simple Complex,” rose to No. 1.

Weber fell in love with jazz music at age 3, listening to his father’s records and mimicking them on a toy organ. When he was 5, his grandmother gave him her old pianola, along with 2,000 piano rolls. By the time he was 6, he had learned all 2,000 tunes. Now Weber has a storehouse of more than 20,000 tunes at his disposal.

Weber shared some of his early memories that helped prepare him for his current success.

“When I was a child, my father invented simplified versions of Scott Joplin rags for me to play on the piano. As I grew older, I started struggling with the original versions, replete with complex syncopation, double octave stretches and break-neck tempos. Several decades later, I’m still wrestling with those rags. It takes an enormous amount of skill to play them well — to give each note the clarity and weight it deserves and maintain the beat with precision at any speed.”

By age 19, Weber’s jazz quintet had opened up for Pat Metheny, Buddy Rich, Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine.

Now a favorite at New York’s 92nd Street “Y” jazz series, performing piano duos with Dick Hyman, Cyrus Chestnut and Bill Charlap, Weber — a true original — is rapidly emerging as a singular personality in jazz.

CNN, BET, CNBC, Bravo Arts, NPR, Voice of America, Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Birdland, The Blue Note, Lincoln Center, Sirius Jazz Radio and the BBC have profiled Weber’s unique musical depth and vast knowledge of his craft.

“Jon Weber — From Joplin to Jarrett: 100 Years of Piano Jazz” will be performed on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.; an added performance Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are priced at $29 to $39 and students with ID $12. Tickets are available online at or from the Harris Center ticket office at 916-608-6888 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and two hours before show time.

Parking is included in the price of the ticket.

Harris Center for the Arts


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