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Harold Danko

Pianist/composer Harold Danko is best known for his long-term associations with an impressive list of jazz legends including Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Lee Konitz and Woody Herman. Beginning his piano studies at the age of five, Harold became serious about pursuing a career in jazz at the age of fifteen when he commenced studies with Gene Rush in Youngstown, Ohio. After graduation from Youngstown State University and a stint in the Army band, Harold landed the piano chair in Woody Herman's Thundering Herd, which launched his career as a much sought after jazz musician. He also developed a reputation as a respected jazz educator and served on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, the New School/Mannes, and Hartt College.

He has performed at major jazz venues throughout the world as well as on recordings, television and video. As a band leader he has been featured in Lincoln Center's "Meet the Artist" series, Washington (DC) Performing Arts Society series at J.F.K. Center, the Rochester International Jazz Festival, and numerous jazz festivals both in the USA and abroad. In 1995 he was awarded an NEA Fellowship to perform his own works in a series of concerts in New York City. Throughout the 90s Harold performed with and composed for his own quartet with Rich Perry (tenor saxophone), Scott Colley (bass) and Jeff Hirshfield (drums) and more recently a trio with Hirshfield and Michael Formanek (bass) with whom he has recorded a series of highly acclaimed CDs on the SteepleChase label. For more than two decades, Harold has won ASCAP awards, based on "the unique prestige value of [his] catalogue of original compositions."

He accepted an appointment from the Eastman School of Music in 1998 and now chairs the Jazz and Contemporary Media department. He teaches jazz piano, directs the Jazz Performance Workshops, and heads the Eastman Jazz Trio, whose first CD was released in 2003. In addition to his own educational video, Jazz Keyboard Techniques, available only in Brazil, he can be seen and heard on video performances with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, and Lee Konitz. Harold's featured column, "Solo Piano", appeared in Keyboard Magazine for more than five years, and his keyboard improvisation method, the Illustrated Keyboard Series, is a widely used reference.


Extended Analysis

Live in Schauburg, Bremen, Germany, 1983

Read "Live in Schauburg, Bremen, Germany, 1983" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

The history of jazz is not only a story of great individuals, but also a narrative of partnerships that have shaped the development of the music. Just think of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines and Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. There's also a proud tradition of combining saxophone and piano with beautiful results. Art Pepper lifted his playing in the company of George Cables and Kenny Barron elevated the late style of Stan Getz.

Live Review

Buenos Aires International Jazz Fest survives fiscal crisis

Read "Buenos Aires International Jazz Fest survives fiscal crisis" reviewed by Mark Holston

Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival Buenos Aires November 14-18, 2019 As the days flew by this past October, it was still impossible to pin down specifics for the upcoming annual Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival. The dates of the event, which has historically taken place in mid-November, remained elusive. The talent line-up was a mystery. Billboards promoting the festival, usually on prominent display in subway stations and on the streets of this metropolis, were ...


Harold Danko: His Own Sound, His Own Time

Read "Harold Danko: His Own Sound, His Own Time" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

The famous sculptor, Henry Moore, hit the nail on the head when he said: “there's no retirement for an artist, it's your way of living so there's no end to it." This statement certainly rings true in the case of pianist and composer, Harold Danko. Even though he has retired from a long and distinguished career as a music teacher and now holds Professor Emeritus status at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, the school where he chaired ...

Multiple Reviews

Harold Danko: Escapades & Gone

Read "Harold Danko: Escapades & Gone" reviewed by Francis Lo Kee

Harold DankoEscapadesSteepleChase2009 Rich PerryGoneSteepleChase2009 Pianist Harold Danko is well known in the jazz education field as chair of the Jazz Studies Department at the Eastman School of Music. One would suppose that, while taking his educational work seriously, this 'steady job' allows him to pick and choose the best moments for creative musical statements. ...

Album Review

Harold Danko: This Isn't Maybe...

Read "This Isn't Maybe..." reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

It's a dilemma that has been common to jazz for decades now. It involves those players who might accurately be called “the middle children." You know how it works, players who can't get the same attention from the major labels like the young lions are able to nor are old enough to be referred to as elder statesmen. The transcendent and always appealing pianist Harold Danko falls into this trap. He should clearly be better known than what he is, ...

Album Review

Harold Danko Quartet: Stable Mates

Read "Stable Mates" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

It’s a shame that we see so little press for those few working bands currently in existence. It’s bad enough that money and schedules make it difficult to keep any kind of firm line-up in place for very long, making such business enterprises almost unviable these days. Little beyond their developing catalog of SteepleChase sides seems to suggest that the Harold Danko Quintet will be taking the world by storm any time soon, yet the group happens to be of ...

Album Review

Harold Danko: Three of Four

Read "Three of Four" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

Even when it seems that you've heard all that there is to hear and all of the up-and-coming musicians that are out there to hear, someone will inadvertently pop up and surprise you. Such is the case with pianist Harold Danko, a gentleman who works as a college educator by day, stepping out once in awhile to lead a record date or two for Sunnyside or SteepleChase. It was his recent work for the latter label, as part of a ...

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CD: Harold Danko, Dick Oatts, Rich Perry

CD: Harold Danko, Dick Oatts, Rich Perry

Source: Rifftides by Doug Ramsey

Harold Danko, Oatts & Perry II (SteepleChase). Pianist Danko was a colleague of alto saxophonist Dick Oatts and tenor saxophonist Rich Perry in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band and never got over them—with good reason. This successor album to Oats & Perry (2006) again teams the three with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. It reemphasizes the reasons that Oatts and Perry are admired among musicians and serious listeners for their inventiveness, passion and tonal qualities. In addition, it ...



Jun 23 Sun
Jun 23 Sun


Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


SteepleChase Records


This Isn't Maybe...

SteepleChase Records


Stable Mates

SteepleChase Records


Three of Four

SteepleChase Records


Live in Schauburg,...

Self Produced



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