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Take Five With Kerry Politzer

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Meet Kerry Politzer: I started out as a classical pianist, went over to jazz and Brazilian music, and am now exploring the world of vocals and lyrics. I've released three jazz albums: Yearning, Watercolor and Labyrinth; and one jazz-pop album, You Took Me In.

Labyrinth was a finalist in the 6th Annual Independent Music Awards, and its first track, "Rhodes Rage," won Best Jazz Category, Third Prize in the 2005 International Songwriting Competition.

Instrument(s): Piano, vocals.

Teachers and/or influences? Most influential jazz teachers: Charlie Banacos and Bevan Manson. Brazilian music teacher: Vanderlei Pereira.

Influences: Milton Nascimento, Bill Evans, Chico Buarque, Herbie Hancock, Djavan, Joni Mitchell, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I was three.

Anecdote from the road: I was playing an autumn hotel gig in Tokyo. I thought I would be pretty slick and buy a book of Japanese folk songs to impress the restaurant-goers. (I should mention here that I do not read Japanese.) Anyway, when I started to play, the few people who were there looked up in bemusement or chagrin. It turns out that the folk songs were divided into season, and I was playing "summer." So much for impressing the restaurant-goers!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Watercolor, the piano trio. It wasn't perfectly executed, because I hadn't been practicing much due to a day job I had at the time. But the collection of tunes, the beautiful Steinway (much darker-toned than I was used to), and the sound quality of the mix came together to make something of a concept album.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Every second I'm playing is a second in which I'm not resorting to criminal activity. So that's good for society.

Did you know... I'm also the longest-blogging New York City food blogger. My site, Salli Vates' NY Food Page, has been around since 2002, and it's still going strong - at least until I stop eating. Check it out at www.sallivates.com.

How do you use the internet to help your career? I am a client of Ariel Publicity, which focuses on the Internet. Through Ariel I have learned about podcasting, and have just recorded my first two podcasts at http://kerryjazzpiano.podshow.com. Also, I'm a denizen of the virtual world Second Life (my avatar is "Kerry Primrose"), where I just held a virtual listening party for my latest CD, You Took Me In. There was someone there from Hawaii!

CDs you are listening to now George Colligan, Blood Pressure (GHCIV Music); The Bird & The Bee, Please Clap Your Hands (Blue Note); The Bird & The Bee, The Bird & The Bee (Blue Note); Donny McCaslin, Soar (Sunnyside); Paula West, Come What May (Hi Horse Records).

Desert Island picks Wayne Shorter, Native Dancer (Sony); Milton Nascimento, Travessia (Universal); Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Next Step (Polygram); Keith Jarrett, Standards Vol. 2 (ECM); George Colligan, Como La Vida Puede Ser (Fresh Sound).

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Shrinking, unfortunately.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? I guess that's the conundrum. There's always the question of the audience, and satisfying that audience. And there's making money, and commercialism, and image, and all kinds of things that don't have anything to do with improvisation. I think children should be encouraged to develop their improvisatory impulse in whatever format they feel most comfortable with, whether it be music, drama, writing, art or dance.

Whether they find any audience for this developed impulse when they become adults is another story. But one can hope.

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