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Lenore Raphael

Jazz writer John Gilbert has called Lenore "Simply one of the best pianists in our art form...she always swings." Critics have used words like "swinging", "emotional" and "artistically subtle" when describing Lenore's playing.

Swinging has always been of major importance to Lenore since she listened to her idols Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson. So is "telling the story". She strives to be in touch with the intent of the tune when she plays.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Lenore started at the age of 3 by playing everything she heard by ear. Lenore studied classical piano with concert artist Beulah Eisenstadt. By the age of seven she was featured in recitals and performed at Carnegie Hall. Even then, she heard different things in the classical music she was playing and started embellishing and improvising on Mozart, Chopin, etc.

She soon began listening to Clifford Brown recordings that her brother brought home. She began playing along with those recordings and into her teens listened to the music of Art Tatum and Bud Powell. While trying to emulate these masters, she graduated from the High School of Music & Art in New York City and then went on to major in music education at New York University.

Upon graduation with a BA in Music Ed, with plans to be a teacher in the New York City school system, once she heard Oscar Peterson her life direction changed. Playing along with Oscar's recordings sometimes five or six hours a day, after two years she felt she was ready to approach the professional world of jazz performance.

A move to New Jersey to raise two sons, she formed a local trio, which gave rise to her first job at Richard's Lounge, a little club in Lakewood, New Jersey. That first night she received a note from a fellow in the audience who happened to be famed pianist Joe Bushkin, who complimented her on her style. She continued to perform in all kinds of venues in the New Jersey area and finally got her first New York City break at a little club on 62nd Street called Gregory's.

Everybody played at Gregory's...pianists Ellis Larkins and Al Haig, guitarists Chuck Wayne and Joe Puma, Ellington alumni Russell Procope and Sonny Greer, bassist Jack Six and many more and Lenore's first gig there was with Russell and Sonny. She stayed there for a year playing the early show five nights a week.

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