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JazzColumbus.com Interview Series: Danny Bauer

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by Andrew Patton on July 27, 2015

Next in our new series of interviews with some of Central Ohio’s finest jazz musicians is pianist Danny Bauer. A native of the Cincinnati area, Bauer graduated from Capital University in 2014 with a degree in Jazz Piano Studies. These days he can be found leading his own groups and playing with such local talents as Pete Mills, Maxwell Button, Bryan Olsheski, Derek DiCenzo, Zakk Jones, John Allen, and the group Canta Brasil. Bauer took the time to answer our questions and give us a closer look at his background and his busy upcoming schedule:

When and why did you start playing music and jazz?

Danny Bauer (DB): I began taking piano lessons at the age of 6. My mom is a high school choir director and a fantastic pianist. She can sight read anything! My dad is a middle school science teacher and has played guitar for as long as I can remember. When I was in around 6th or 7th grade my dad started to check out jazz, so while I was in the car with him I started hearing some pretty killer records – Kind of Blue, Soul Station – lots of stuff with Wynton Kelly! In 7th grade I began playing trombone in the junior high jazz band, and the summer between 8th and 9th grade I went to the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp for trombone with my dad. I distinctly remember at the end of the camp feeling like jazz trombone was not for me, but I really liked watching the pianists.

Who are some of your main influences in your playing/performing?

DB: I really love Thelonious Monk – when Max Button asked me to perform a tribute to Monk with him and Derek DiCenzo in the fall of last year, I really started to get into the Genius of Monk. Mark Flugge was great about helping introduce me to many different pianists and opening my musical palette, and some of my other favorites include Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Erroll Garner, and Craig Taborn. As far as non-pianists go, I’m really into Chris Potter, Dave Holland, Matt Wilson, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Wayne Shorter. This is always a tough question because there are so many amazing musicians to pull from!

What is your fondest musical memory?

DB: That’s a hard one to answer! A few that really stick out are the gig where the quartet played Chris Potter music, playing trio with John Allen and Ryan Folger at Dick’s Den, playing with the Pete Mills Quartet at Natalie’s for the Momentum album, the Zakk Jones Graduation Bash at Dick’s Den, and also the first Safety Squad gig. Anytime I perform with other musicians where the communication between the musicians is really strong it really makes everything come alive and it really becomes magical.

What are you listening to today? What’s on your playlist?

DB: Right now I’m trying to check out a lot of solo piano to get those chops together, so I’ve got some solo albums from Ellis Marsalis, Monk, Herbie Hancock, and Mark Flugge. I’ve also been checking out Steve Lehman’s newest Octet album, Tim Berne, Donny McCaslin. I recently heard about Alex Ross’ book from 2007 entitled “The Rest Is Noise” where he reviews a lot of classical music and I’ve started listening to some of that. Currently from that playlist I’m listening to Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.

What inspires you about the Columbus Jazz scene?

DB: So many great players, and so many great people! It’s rare to run into someone in this scene that you won’t like. The scene is very open to younger players, and I feel like some of the veterans of the town have graciously opened their arms to me. I also really like how the venues in town are open to bands performing a wide variety of music.

What are you working on for 2015? Any new projects, exciting shows or releases?

DB: The biggest project I have on my plate right now is Safety Squad, a ten piece fusion band right in the vein of Snarky Puppy. We are playing August 1st at Brothers Drake for their National Mead Day and for Gallery Hop. Right now this band’s library consists of 9 Snarky Puppy tunes and 3 of my tunes, but we are working on growing the list of original music for the band!

Other things I am a part of:

You can see me on Tuesdays playing with the Pete Mills Quartet at Park Street Tavern

July 29 – Canta Brasil and Tia Harris’ “Ranelle Project” at the Easton Sounds on the Town Series
August 1 – Safety Squad at Brothers Drake for National Mead Day
August 5 – Safety Squad at Dick’s Den for Zakk Jones’ first residency date
August 13– A new ensemble playing “Avant Garde” jazz at Dick’s Den. The ensemble will include Ryan Folger (drum set), John Allen (bass), Aroh Pandit (trumpet), Justin Dickson (saxophones), and Annie Huckaba (vocals)
August 19 – Screeching Owl at Dick’s Den
August 20 – Screeching Owl at Urban Artifact in Cincinnati, Ohio
August 22 – Tribute to Dave Holland at Dick’s Den with Max Button, John Allen, and Zakk Jones
August 23 – Ryan Folger’s debut gig as a leader at Dick’s Den
August 29 – Safety Squad at Capital University for the first weekend of the school year

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