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Kerry Politzer

Kerry Politzer is a Portland-based jazz pianist, composer, and educator. She is on the music faculty of Portland State University and previously taught at the University of Portland and the University of Manitoba. Kerry received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Piano from the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied improvisation and composition with the late jazz guru Charlie Banacos, and a Master of Music in Jazz in Studies from Rowan University.

Prior to moving to Portland, Kerry lived in New York for many years, where she studied Brazilian music and performed original compositions at clubs including Smalls. She also toured with DIVA No Man’s Band, playing with Diane Schuur, Slide Hampton, and Larry Coryell. In 1996, Kerry was one of six finalists in the American Pianists Association’s 3rd Biennial Jazz Piano Competition. Her composition Rhodes Rage won Third Prize, Jazz Category in the 2005 International Songwriting Competition

Kerry has released seven jazz CDs as a leader, including Blue in Blue, which featured saxophonist Donny McCaslin and was termed a “first-rate jazz outing” by AllAboutJazz.com. She has also been a featured sideman on albums of George Colligan, Laura Dreyer, and the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble and was featured on Sax And The City: Musical Contributions From New York’s Best Women Jazz Instrumentalists (Apria Records, 2004). Her latest CD is “In a Heartbeat” (PJCE Records, 2022).

In 2019, Kerry was awarded a Regional Arts and Culture Council Artistic Focus grant to explore the music of Brazilian composer Durval Ferreira. The project culminated in the August 2019 release of Diagonal: The Music of Durval Ferreira. In 2020, she received another RACC grant to produce the first edition of Music of Brazilian Piano Masters, which can be accessed at the Music of Brazilian Piano Masters YouTube page. In 2021, Kerry received grants from MusicPortland and the RACC for her Driveway Jazz Series project, which provides an outdoor venue for musicians during the summer. 

One of Kerry’s newest projects is Bossa PDX, a samba-jazz and bossa nova group for which she has transcribed dozens of classic arrangements from the original recordings. With this music, she has performed around the country at venues such as Jazz Forum Arts, the Black Dolphin, the Oregon Coast Jazz Party, Ellenburg’s Jazz in the Valley, and the Florence Wine & Jazz Festival, among other venues.

Kerry was a featured soloist in the 25th Annual Gene Harris Festival at Boise State University, and she headlined at the 2022 Montavilla Jazz Festival. She has also performed with the Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra and the 1905 Orchestra.

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Primary Instrument

Piano and vocals



Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


Adjunct Jazz Piano Instructor at Portland State University

George Colligan


Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

In a Heartbeat

PJCE Records



Self Produced


Below the Surface

PJCE Records


Blue in Blue

Piloo Records and Productions LLC








Spring Day

From: In a Heartbeat
By Kerry Politzer

São Salvador

From: Diagonal
By Kerry Politzer

Two Worlds

From: Below the Surface
By Kerry Politzer



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