Friday, May 1, 2009, 8:00 pm
$15 Advance / $19 Day of show / $10 Students with ID and kids / Members 10% discount
Virtuosic pianist/composer Nicki Denner brings her sizzling Latin jazz sextet in for a hip-shaking salsa dance party that will help raise the temperature of the whole Williamstown Jazz Festival. She has been part of Lincoln Center's "Meet the Artist" program and has performed with the likes of Sheila E., Savion Glover, Candido, and Doc Severinsen. As Frank DeBlase of the Rochester International Jazz Festival said, "Nicki Denner's piano playing gets pretty damn caliente." Presented in collaboration with the
Williamstown Jazz Festival.
MASS MoCA Dance Party to Feature Cuban-Jazz pianist Nicki Denner
(North Adams, Massachusetts) Jazz maven Nicki Denner's thirst for Latin, Cuban, and salsa music has made her one of the most sought after jazz/Latin pianists in the country. On Friday, May 1, at 8 PM Denner will bring her sizzling sextet to MASS MoCA's Hunter Center for a hip-shaking, salsa dance party that will say goodbye to cool days and nights and hello to the rising temperatures of summer. Frank DeBlase of the Rochester International Jazz Festival notes, "Nicki Denner's piano playing gets pretty damn caliente, whether she's extrapolating a Latin standard or taking listeners in jazzy jaunts into her lively originals."
Denner began playing the piano at the age seven, in the small town of West Salem, Wisconsin. At 17 she moved away from home to study music in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she found herself profoundly inspired by jazz pianist Jimmy Hamilton. Through a series of serendipitous events, two years later Denner found herself playing salsa and merengue music with the Minneapolis-based band Latin Sounds Orchestra, and eventually became the musical director for the Puerto Rican folkloric group Proyecto La Plena. Picking up the salsa and Latin beats in her piano playing came naturally to Denner and she slowly begin to mix all of these genres together in her own compositions.
In 1998 Denner released her first CD Don't Just Stand There with her then band Jazziroco. After moving to the east coast in 1999 she was quickly welcomed into the New York Latin music scene and became the principal jazz pianist for many Latin and Jazz artists including Sheila E, Chris Washburne, and Harvie S. Denner's second release El Medico de Coqui which features fourteen scorching tracks, including six boleros, and showcases the talent of Puerto Rican vocalist Julian Llanos. Since 2001, she has led her own trio with Jennifer Vincent on bass, and Willie Martinez on drums. In 2006, the trio released their debut recording, Moliendo Café, which was named one of the "Top Ten Picks of 2006" in Latin Beat Magazine.
Denner has been a featured pianist for Lincoln Center's "Meet the Artist" program, Chicago City Limits (a New York City-based improv comedy group) and Broadway Underground (an off-Broadway production featuring New York's finest tap and hip-hop dancers). She was commissioned by the New Jersey Tap Ensemble in 2004 to compose music for a piece choreographed by Savion Glover. Along with performing, Denner has served on the piano faculty of the Stanford University Summer Jazz Workshop, the Montclair State University Jazz Prep Summer Program and the New York City Tap Festival.
Beverage and bar service, as well as a range of dinner selections from Lickety Split, will be available when the doors open at 7 PM and throughout the night. Dance instruction, arranged by Jacob's Pillow, will begin at 8 PM for those who need a refresher or who want to catch up on the latest Cuban dance moves. This event is presented as part of the Williamstown Jazz Festival taking place at an array of venues throughout the region between Wednesday, April 29, and Wednesday, May 6. For more information visit www.williamstownjazz.com.
Tickets for the Cuban Dance Party with Nicki Denner are $15 in advance/ $19 day of show. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 AM to 5 PM Wednesdays through Mondays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.