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Take Five With Jerry Engelbach

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Jerry Engelbach: Jerry is a jazz pianist and graphic designer living in Brooklyn, NY, with his illustrator/comics artist wife, Ann Decker.

Jerry works solo and as leader of his quintet, Weaver of Dreams. He has worked at virtually every major club date venue in the New York Tristate Area, including the Rainbow Room, Cafe Carlyle, Four Seasons, Copacobana, and Tavern on the Green.

Jerry studied art at Cooper Union and briefly, music in the Juilliard Extension Program. He was cofounder and co-artistic director of the Soho Repertory Theatre, helping to launch the careers of many future stars, including Kevin Spacey and Kathleen Turner.

He has been, at various times, a slipcover cutter, toy company executive, and theatre instructor at NYU. He holds a private pilot's license and is an avid skier and tennis player.

He's a regular contributor to the All About Jazz Forums, and composed two of the six tunes performed in New York in August 2009 at the first All About Jazz Orchestra concert.

Instrument(s):

Pianist, composer, arranger.

Teachers and/or influences?

Largely self-taught. My most important pianistic influences were Bud Powell, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly. My favorite bands are the small combos of the early 1960s of Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy, and John Coltrane.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I discovered the secret, at the age of 15, of creating harmony from those little symbols above the staff.

Your sound and approach to music:

I'm addicted to standards. I find much merit in jazz tunes, but I especially love the effortless genius and improvisational possibilities offered in the Great American Songbook, by Kern, Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Berlin, et al.

Your teaching approach:

I've never taught music. If I did, I'd want to give the student options rather than steer him/her to one approach.

Your dream band:

No particular artists; just those with the same perspective as mine.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Time Out, by Dave Brubeck, and Live at the Blackhawk, by Miles Davis.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Unsettled.

By Day:

Freelance graphic designer.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

There are no alternatives to music.

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