Photo by John Osler
DETROIT JAZZ PROFILE: PIANIST IAN FINKELSTEIN
The super-talented pianist, composer, producer and educator, Ian Finkelstein, returns to the Dirty Dog for four nights, from Wednesday March 22 to Saturday March 25. He’ll be with his trio, playing a mix of Jazz standards and his own compositions.
I first met him ten years ago while producing the Discovery series at the Music Hall, which featured new and emerging Jazz talent from local high schools and universities.
Ian really stood out as he played with well-honed technical skills and a good understanding of improvisational structure, especially since he was just in his mid-teens. Other young stand outs in our series included pianists, Michael Malis, Jon Dixon, and Michael Jellick, drummers Jesse Kramer and Alex White, saxophonists Marcus Elliot, Rafael Statin, and De’Sean Jones among others.
Now in their mid to late twenties, they’re taking their place among the Jazz professionals that are part of Detroit’s serious current Jazz scene. Many of them have begun touring around the world and all have played the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe which has a reputation for supporting new and emerging local talent.
Ian’s certainly been busy paying his dues, these past ten years, graduating from the University of Michigan with two degrees: a BFA in Jazz Piano Performance and another in Performing Arts Technology. He’s also been mentored by many top musicians such as the late Marcus Belgrave, and Geri Allen and has shared the stage with many legendary Jazz artists including Benny Golson, Robert Hurst, Marcus Belgrave and others. In fact, he’ll be performing again with Hurst in Germany this April.
In 2014 he performed in Marcus Belgrave’s band at Dizzy’s Club Coco-Cola in New York with Marcus Elliot, Marion Hayden, Joan Belgrave, and Gayelynn McKinney. New York Times Jazz writer Ben Ratliff wrote, “the band also included two young Detroit musicians, the tenor saxophonist Marcus Elliott and the pianist Ian Finkelstein, convincing and confident, evolved in touch and tone, the kind of musicians New York would be lucky to have. But they were practicing restraint, too, playing in service to the song, and the bandleader”.
A fan of many kinds of music, Finkelstein says some of his favorites are Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, Jaki Byard, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Cox, Roy Ayers, Theo Parrish, Scott Grooves and others. He also enjoys composing electronic music and has a new album that expresses his electronic side coming out next month, on Discovery Records.
Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.