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Take Five With Lenny Marcus

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Meet Lenny Marcus:
Lenny Marcus hails from Washington, DC, but studied, performed and recorded for many years in New Orleans, LA, before relocating to Roanoke, VA. He is leader on 18 albums, and has studied and recorded with many jazz legends, including David "Fathead" Newman
David
David "Fathead" Newman
1933 - 2009
sax, tenor
, Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch
b.1956
trumpet
, Sonny Fortune
Sonny Fortune
Sonny Fortune
b.1939
sax, alto
, Frank Foster
Frank Foster
Frank Foster
1928 - 2011
saxophone
, Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
1925 - 1999
guitar
, Herb Ellis
Herb Ellis
Herb Ellis
1921 - 2010
guitar
, Alvin Batiste
Alvin Batiste
Alvin Batiste
1932 - 2007
clarinet
, Ellis Marsalis
Ellis Marsalis
Ellis Marsalis
b.1934
piano
, Jane Powell and many others. Marcus has played in three New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals, two international festivals in Barbados and Grenada, and his music has been used for many years on the National Weather Channel's Local on the Eights and CNN's Heroes series. His music ranges from modern, contemporary upbeat jazz to a more meditative, contemplative approach.

Instrument(s):
Piano, flute, vocals.

Teachers and/or influences?
Teachers: Ray Bryant
Ray Bryant
Ray Bryant
1931 - 2011
piano
, Ellis Marsalis, John Phillips, Lester Karr, Alvin Batiste.
Influences: Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
b.1945
piano
, Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
, Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
, Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
, Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, Mose Allison
Mose Allison
Mose Allison
b.1927
composer/conductor
, and Beethoven.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
When I was little, my parents threw house jazz parties almost every Sunday, inviting all the local Washington, DC musicians, as well as many musicians on tour and coming through town. Mom played upright bass, Dad played piano, older sister sang. Ray Bryant, a jazz legendary pianist and my Dad's best friend, was always in the house; playing, showing me a few things on the piano......I was hooked.

Your sound and approach to music:
There are so many great musicians in the world; I just try to add my sound to the mix. I love to compose music for both solo piano and small combos, and lately I've delved into the masterpieces of Beethoven for more composing ideas....there was a lot of "jazz" in his music, from over 200 yrs ago. I love to throw my whole being into whatever I'm doing, and see what comes out.

Practicing listening to me is even more important than playing, but performing and interacting with other musicians in the band where everyone is listening is the best.

Your teaching approach:
I keep teaching fun, showing students how to play a few things right away to draw them in. There's no getting around practicing...a lot, so if you can somehow make practicing a fun, inventive thing to do, students will practice more often and start getting into it more.

Your dream band:
I've already gotten to play and record with some of my dream players, including David "Fathead" Newman, Frank Foster
Frank Foster
Frank Foster
1928 - 2011
saxophone
, Brian Lynch, Sonny Fortune....on horns.......and Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis, and Mundell Lowe
Mundell Lowe
Mundell Lowe
b.1922
guitar
on guitars.

My first band had Herman Jackson on drums (brother of Randy Jackson, from American Idol) and Jim Singleton, a great New Orleans' bassist. I would have loved to perform with Dexter Gordon, and today a nice rhythm section would be Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
b.1942
drums
or Brian Blade
Brian Blade
Brian Blade
b.1970
drums
on drums, and Christian McBride
Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
on bass.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Getting to a gig to perform with a large Latin jazz band, and none of the Latin percussionists showed up, they all got lost on the road. So, we had to wing it with a small jazz trio, for a very large audience who expected a much different band. Somehow, we made it through the concert.

Favorite venue:
I would have to say my favorite gig was when my trio got to perform in the Barbados Jazz Festival with Sonny Fortune. We were given a dressing room that was full of fresh seafood and coolers of beer, the stage and setting were absolutely beautiful, the grand piano and acoustics were perfect, and the whole band was put up for an entire week on the island. Wonderful!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
That would have to be Jazzaphrenia, since I got to play with stellar sax men Frank Foster and Sonny Fortune, and an awesome rhythm section. It was just a great studio session.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Ray Bryant, Alone at Montreux.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
I'm trying to be true to the jazz form, while experimenting with my own take on things, such as on our last CD, The Jazz of Beethoven, finding ways to freely improvise in the setting of Beethoven's classical piano sonata forms.

Did you know...
I'm into yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and Tai Chi and Qigong.

CDs you are listening to now:
Radiohead, OK Computer;

Radiohead, Amnesiac;

John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, A Love Supreme;

Keith Jarrett, Anthology;

Mose Allison, I Love the Life I Live.

Desert Island picks:
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, Bitches Brew; McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
, Reaching Forth; Keith Jarrett, Belonging; Keith Jarrett, The Koln Concert; Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
, Light as a Feather.

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