The sophistication and warm power of Debbie Poryes’s music is hard to overstate. Her highly original compositions are influenced by jazz from bebop to post-bop to modern times, as well as by 20th-century classical music and free jazz. Her voicings, melodies and touch are exquisite. Her sense of time and swing are deeply felt, and yet she can also be light hearted.
“Poryes is an inventive pianist, taking familiar standards and setting them slightly askew to re-examine them. Poryes’s originals are varied in their moods and effects, serene... powerful... admirable.” Cadence Magazine
“Debbie Poryes and her infectious gifts as an abundantly creative jazz pianist- composer-arranger points out her distinctive identity among the huge crowd of excellent pianists. Easily perceptible is her genuine, spirited exuberance for the music, the piano, and the open interaction with her bandmates — a standout quality of her engagingly personal and musical personality. Impressive, too, is how her swinging joyousness articulates every note she plays.” Herb Wong, jazz critic
Born in Santa Monica, California, Debbie found herself at the piano when she was five, practicing everything from Chopin to show tunes. Playing led to fascination with musical theory and structure, then jazz standards, composing, and improvising. Hearing Monk and Miles as a teenager, she fell in love with their music and decided to become a jazz pianist. A student on full scholarship at the University of California at Berkeley, she decided to stop going to school so that she could be a full-time professional jazz musician. At twenty, her first regular paying gig lasted a year at a Berkeley restaurant, playing five nights a week from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Debbie has always gone her own way musically, even while maintaining a constant study through transcription and analysis of her favorite players and composers, such as Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Horace Silver, Sonny Clark, and Clare Fischer. Drawn strongly to 20th century classical music she has been influenced by many composers such as Aaron Copland and Norman Dello Joio. In her early years as a musician in Oakland, her passion led her to play frequently at jam sessions while continuing to study classical music and jazz with local players. She composed and arranged music, and produced her own concerts with her various duos, trios and quartets in addition to freelancing with various local singers and bands. She has since headlined all over the San Francisco Bay Area including Yoshi's Jazzclub, the Berkeley Jazzschool, the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, and the Piedmont Piano Company.