Peggy Stern is as well-known as a composer as she is known for her fine piano playing. She arrived at jazz via classical music, R&B, and salsa. Her music has a particularly broad ethnic base — in addition to European and American classical music, Peggy’s music draws from Brazilian, African, Jewish, Irish, Cuban, and traditional jazz influences.
Peggy has composed, played, recorded, and toured in a wide variety of situations: from solos to octets to jazz choruses. Her compositions range from highly original pieces to reharmonized jazz standards. “Everything she writes wants to dance, ” says Ken Dais of Jazziz.
Peggy’s background would account for her varied musical tastes. She began playing classical piano at an early age, continuing her studies at the Eastman School of Music, and finishing a Masters Degree, still in Classical music, at the New England Conservatory. And then she began to improvise. While living in San Francisco, she played in salsa bands, notably Azteca and Supercombo with Benny Vallarde. She did a stint in an R&B band (called Cat’s Cradle) with singer Linda Tillery, and was “instructed” by Paul Jackson (bass) and Mike Clark (drums) of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunter band.
Subsequently, Peggy moved to New York, absorbing the piano stylings of the greats, such as Jimmy Rowles and Tommy Flanagan. Peggy has worked and toured with many wonderful musicians: Lee Konitz, Diane Schuur, David “Fathead” Newman, Jay Clayton, Gary Peacock, Gene Bertoncini, Bud Shank, Red Holloway, Thomas Chapin, Machito, Puck Fair, Bobby Shew, Stanley Turrentine, Gerry Mulligan, Eddie Henderson, Emily Remler, to name a few.
Peggy has toured throughout Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan. In addition, Peggy has worked as an educator for the past 20 years, at colleges in the US. She has given workshops throughout Europe (Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy), and the US.
In 2004, Peggy created the Wall Street Jazz Festival ("where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women") in Kingston, NY; the Festival has been held twelve consecutive years to date. The Festival has featured Sheila Jordan, Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen, Jay Clayton, Dena DeRose, Su Terry, Claire Daly, Jamie Baum, Teri Roiger, Roberta Piket, Virginia Mayhew, Laura Dubin, Sheryl Bailey, Allison Miller, Maryann McSweeney, Marilyn Crispell, Francesca Tanksley, Erica Lindsey,Lee Shaw, Nina Sheldon, Betty MacDonald, Rebecca Coupe Franks, Suzi Stern, Jenny Scheinman, Natalie Cressman, Amy shook, and Peggy Stern's band Estrella Salsa.
Since May 2013, Peggy makes her home in Austin, Texas, to be near her family.