Composer/Pianist Steve Elmer is an expressive and creative musician of growing acclaim. He describes his musical approach as “Classic Jazz: Play the melody, improvise, tell a story, and make it swing.”
Once called “the most anonymous piano player in New York” by a respected jazz pianist impressed by Elmer’s playing, he is now the recipient of praise from jazz publications and musicians throughout the nation.
Jazz Times says “He plays with the ferocity of a man with no more time to waste.” BlogCritics.org says “The music is gorgeous. Each song is treated like the only song and you get wrapped up in each one like it's a novel you don't want to put down. Even without lyrics you can feel the story behind the music. “ All About Jazz-Los Angles says “Pianist Elmer has imbibed from Bud Powell’s well, and has come up with a bucket overflowing with some hard hitting and vibrant bop. Elmer’s touch is sharp and assertive, confident and clean. “
Steve began his musical training as a drummer in a Brooklyn junior high school when he was thirteen years old. He briefly attended Manhattan School of Music before he became the “featured jazz drummer” with the All American Big Brass Band’s 16-counrty three-month tour of Africa. On his return, he spent the next two years playing drums with the Pepe Morreale Trio and the great lyrical cornetist Bobby Hackett.
Elmer then earned a B.S in Music Education from Hofstra University and took a job teaching music in a Passaic, New Jersey elementary school followed by a year-and-a-half at Manhattan Vocational-Technical High School. In 1969 he attended Queens College where he received a Master’s degree in Music Composition, was invited to become an assistant professor, and developed a BA in Jazz Studies program where he and Count Basie alumnus Frank Foster served as the faculty.
At age 25, Steve took the first of many formal piano lessons with the brilliant jazz pianist and teacher Lennie Tristano. After six years of intense training, Elmer decided to move away from the Tristano influence and follow his own musical instincts. At age 40 he took his first classical piano lessons with Arminda Canteros and Jon Verbalis and began to fill many of the gaps in his formal musical training and redefining his love of music.
Elmer stopped playing professionally from 1976-1991 until he met a young drummer named Myles Weinstein and discovered they were both on the same musical wavelength. Steve and Myles formed a group called The Jazz Mentality Chris Potter on saxophones and Ralph Hamperian on bass. The group recorded two CDs, “Maxwell’s Torment” and “Show Business Is My Life” featuring many of Steve’s original compositions. In 2006, Steve recorded “I Used To Be Anonymous,” a CD featuring Hide Tanaka on bass and Shingo Okudaira on drums playing nine original Elmer compositions. The trio made a 2,500-mile tour of Japan in 2007 and recorded “Fire Down Below,” their second CD, in 2008 featuring ten Steve Elmer original compositions and a lot of “classic jazz” playing. Steve is looking forward to a return visit to Japan and recording his first solo piano album in the near future.