Take Five With Patrick Zimmerli

Patrick Zimmerli By

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About Patrick Zimmerli
New York-and Paris-based composer/saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli writes a sophisticated yet approachable hybrid of contemporary classical and jazz music. Recent collaborators include Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Brooklyn Rider String Quartet, Brian Blade, Luciana Souza, the Knights Orchestra and the Escher String Quartet. His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Sala São Paolo in Brazil, the Vienna Konzerthaus Grosser Saal and the new SF Jazz Center.

Zimmerli has written numerous orchestral, chamber and choral works, including two four-movement Piano Trios for the Seattle Chamber Music Festival and two four-movement Piano Concertos with jazz percussion, written for the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra and pianists Ethan Iverson and Sonia Rubinsky.

Zimmerli's Aspects of Darkness and Light, an evening-length work commissioned by the Seattle Commissioning Club, was recently recorded by Joshua Redman, Brooklyn Rider, bassist Scott Colley and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi for Nonesuch Recordings (Warner) and is slated for early 2016 release. Upcoming projects include a large-scale oratorio for male choir, operatic tenor, jazz percussion and piano on the work of Alan Seeger, to be premiered at the storied Invalides in Paris in 2016; and a collaboration with the Paris Percussion Group and choreographer Bruno Bouché to premiere at the 2017 Cannes International Festival of Dance.

Zimmerli was just awarded the 2015 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He was also the winner of the CLICK People's Orchestral Commission from the Colorado Music Festival. Other commissions have come from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, the Ying String Quartet, Brown University, violinist Timothy Fain, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. From 2002-05, Zimmerli served as Composer in Residence with the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra. Awards include first prize in the first annual BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute Composers' Competition.

Zimmerli music has been featured in MoMA's Summergarden series, at the Guggenheim Museum, on NPR and at the Jazz Composers' Collective. His work has been recorded on the Naxos, Nonesuch (Warner), Blue Note, Arabesque, Antilles, Songlines, Jazz City and Naïve labels.


Teachers and/or influences?
I've had a million influences, and I write many styles of music where different influences come to the fore, but my first love was straight-ahead jazz, I loved Bird and Trane and Miles from the '60s and Wayne and Sonny and Monk and all the rest. I think that music has an enduring influence on whatever I do.

As far as teachers, again, I've had countless. I've learned maybe the most from listening to/transcribing/studying the great masters, in both classical and jazz domains; But I've also been formed through lessons with many amazing musicians, from Jerry Bergonzi and Joe Lovano in the jazz realm (both of whose advice I still hear in my head regularly, though my lessons with them date to the mid-1980s) to Fred Lerdahl, Walter Winslow, David Rakowski, Joel Feigin, and numerous others in the contemporary classical field. I should also mention Bill Stanley, my high school band director at Hall High School in West Hartford, CT, who had unforgettable expressions and pithy words of advice. And my brother David, who was a piano prodigy 3 years my senior, instilled very high ideals in me from a young age.

But I guess really my best teachers have been my colleagues. To list just some examples, the great violinist/conductor Scott Yoo, Tim Fain, Andy Lin, Yoon Kwon, Colin and Eric Jacobsen and Nick Cords and Johnny Gandlesman of Brooklyn Rider, and many other classical string players with whom I've worked; Kevin Hays, Brad Mehldau, Josh Redman, Scott Colley, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Williams, Ben Monder, Bill Stewart, Leon Parker, Jon Gordon, Tim Ries, these are just a few off the top of my head from whom I learned a lot.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
It became apparent that I wasn't going to have a career as a baseball player—which happened around my first month in little league, I think I broke the record for lowest batting average ever!


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