Lynne Arriale's remarkable career is graced by a rare commitment to authenticity and vulnerability defined by careful craft and high artistic standards. It is precisely this willingness to remain so emotionally exposed that makes her performances so accessible to music lovers of all kinds.
If the nature of jazz is "reinvention," then pianist/composer Lynne Arriale has truly led the jazz life, following a personal and musical journey throughout which she has reinvented herself, her craft, her artistic direction.The consummate storyteller, pianist Lynne Arriale immediately connects with her audience through emotionally charged performances. Her compelling compositions, refreshing melodies, and reinterpretations of pop and rock classics not only bring accolades from critics but help create new audiences of listeners previously unfamiliar with jazz.
At the core of Arriale's appeal is her warmth, humor and ability to communicate with her band and audiences listeners. "She achieves a special, deep connection with her audience, and the energy flows both ways. Arriale's emotional authenticity allows her audience to feel and think along with her"(Jazz Times). One ingredient to her success has been Lynne's focus on the melody regardless of where spontaneous improvisation takes her. "I search for the 'heart' of the song, find what makes it special to me and use it as musical inspiration," says Lynne. "This search for new music is related to giving voice to the music inside me; it increases my musical passion."
One need only consider her most recent Motema recordings, Nuance: The Bennett Studio Sessions (2009) and Convergence (2011), Arriale's 12th CD as a leader, released after a 15-year devotion to her piano trio, to wonder at her ability to harness creative disparities with a transcendent sense of purpose. With a style that is deceptively accessible and intimate, Lynne's music emanates a complexity created not by multiple layers of notes, but by multiple layers of emotion, capturing the imaginations of music lovers worldwide. Noted Jazz Police, "There may be no jazz artist working today who brings a broader spectrum of musical ideas to the connection of mind and heart." That's quite an accomplishment for any musician, but consider that Lynne Arriale had no interest in jazz until her mid-20s!
Lynne's affinity for music and specifically the piano was evident early on, but well outside a jazz context. Adopted as an infant, Arriale grew up in Milwaukee. She discovered the keyboard at age 3 when given a plastic toy piano, and "never stopped." Throughout her school and college years, she studied classical music, earning a master's degree before turning to jazz. "I may have heard an hour of it before that, and I didn't get it," she recently told Jazz Times. "But I didn't know it was improvised music. I didn't have a clue." Later she learned that her biological mother was a jazz vocalist—and perhaps there is something to heredity here, given Lynne's reverence for songful melodies.
Selected to tour Japan with the acclaimed 100 Golden Fingers ensemble in 1991, Lynne performed with jazz legends Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Barron, Harold Mabern, Junior Mance, Monty Alexander, Roger Kellaway, Ray Bryant, and Cedar Walton. She then went on to win the 1993 Great American Piano Competition, and soon launched her long-term touring and recording collaboration with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Davis. Her focus on the piano trio led to comparisons with the great trios of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, yet she has been consistently praised as having a "singular voice" as a pianist, leader, composer, and arranger. "I really can't compare her to anyone," said recent collaborator and multi-Grammy winner Randy Brecker. "Her music transcends the word ‘jazz' – it is just pure music."
The spirit of reinvention has also characterized Lynne's career as well as her music. After ten acclaimed recordings with her trio, she looked for a new direction for her music, finding inspiration writing for a new ensemble featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist George Mraz and drummer Anthony Pinciotti. Nuance (Motema Music, 2009) did not leave trademark Arriale devotion to melody and accessibility behind, yet the arrangements were far more assertive, the shadings bolder, the improvisations crossing into more distant territories than ever before. And now with Convergence (her 12th recording as leader), Lynne continues that freer trajectory, combining originals and reimagined covers, Middle-eastern, Celtic, Americana, pop and rock influences, further expanding the emotional palette with Bill McHenry on tenor sax, Omer Avital on bass and oud, and Anthony Pinciotti on drums and percussion.
Lynne's musical explorations continue with her first solo piano recording, entitled "Solo," which was released on Motema Music in March, 2012.
The Lynne Arriale Trio (and now, her Quartet) has appeared at major festivals throughout the world, including the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center, The Gilmore Piano Festival, Cannes MIDEM, Spoleto Arts, Montreux, Montreal, Monterey, and North Sea, Burghausen, Stuttgart, Sardinia, Pori, San Francisco, Ottawa, Rochester, Portugal's Estoril, Zagreb, Norway's Silda, and Australia's Perth and Brisbane Jazz Festivals. She has performed at Jazz At Lincoln Center and recently in South Africa with full symphony orchestra.
Arriale's recordings have topped numerous "Best Of" lists; including The New Yorker, United Press International, and The German Record Critics Association. "Convergence" was included in theTop Ten Best New Jazz Releases and Best New Songs of 2011 Ken Frankling's "Jazz Notes". Lynne she has been featured on the PBS Profile of a Recording Artist and on multiple NPR programs, including Weekend Edition, Jazz Set, and Piano Jazz with Marion McPartland; and in Billboard, Downbeat, JazzTimes, (May 2011 feature), JAZZIZ, BBC Magazine, and the London Times; and has been featured in cover stories for JazzEd, One Way and M Magazines. Her live media appearances include CNN/FN' Biz, NPR's Jazz Piano Christmas – Live from The Kennedy Center, and radio/TV interviews throughout the U.S., U.K., and Europe, including the BBC, Radio France and German National Television. Lynne was recently awarded the SESAC National Performance Award (comparable to BMI and ASCAP).
In addition to working with her group, Lynne has also collaborated with gifted singer/songwriter/lyricist, Rondi Charleston and co-written "Dance of Time," "Your Spirit Lingers," "The Land of Galilee," "Song For the Ages," and recorded these original compositions on Charleston's CD, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes."
Arriale is also an active educator and adjudicator, she is an active member of The Jazz Education Network, has adjudicated the Montreux Jazz Competition, American Pianists Association Fellowship Awards, and The Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Competition, and the Jacksonville Piano Competition. With jazz icon Toshiko Akiyoshi, she was a featured mentor at The Mary Lou Williams Emerging Artist Workshop at the Kennedy Center.
A devoted educator, Lynne is currently Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Director of Small Ensembles at The University of North Florida in Jacksonville and conducts educational clinics and master classes throughout the world. She has served as a faculty member of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, the Centrum Port Townsend Jazz Workshop and the Thelonious Monk Institute in Aspen. Her quartet, featuring jazz legend Randy Brecker, presented a headline performance at the 2011 Jazz Education Network Convention. Lynne recently was invited to be a Yamaha Artist.
With each new release, each new tour, Lynne's critical acclaim and audience appeal rises another notch. That she continually rises above the very best of her past efforts, and now with the very bold move to a new format and new collaborators, speaks volumes of Lynne Arriale's versatility and virtuosity as composer, arranger, performer and bandleader.
"Playing music means sharing a part of myself with the audience when I perform, and I think of it in the same way that I think of 'love': it's limitless-- I can share it, and there is always more to give. My goal is to play music that allows people to share my passion and be part of the musical experience that they take away with them. " --Lynne Arriale
"Solo" was named one of the top CDs of 2012 by JAZZIZ Magazine
#4 on National Jazz Week Radio Chart
Top 50 CDs of 2011- JazzTimes
In journalist Ken Frankling's "Jazz Notes" Ten Best New Jazz Releases of 2011
Arriale's ‘Dance of the Rain' also made Frankling's 10 Best New Songs of 2011 list
One of Jazz Police's Essential CDs of 2011
Winner of the SESAC 2012 National Performance Activity Award
"A powerful pianist; her playing generates memorable jazz no matter the source material."
"The poet laureate of her generation… a stunning composer and prolific recording artist who has followed her muse without compromise." (Jazz Police)
"I really can't compare her to anyone, her music transcends the word ‘jazz' – it is just pure music." Multi-Grammy winner Randy Brecker.
"Lynne Arriale's brilliant musicianship and bandstand instincts place her among the top jazz pianists of the day." (The New York Times)
"Arriale is putting the heart back into jazz." (The London Times)