Distinguished composer-pianist Dave Burrell is a performing artist of singular stature on the international contemporary music scene. His dynamic compositions, with blues and gospel roots recall the tradition of Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson and Duke Ellington. After majoring in music at the University of Hawaii, he enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1961. After graduating with degrees in composition/arranging and performance in 1965, he moved to New York City, where he quickly established himself as one of the most innovative and original pianists, collaborating with the emerging leaders in contemporary jazz.
Burrell's Jazz Opera Windward Passages, written in collaboration with Swedish-born poet/lyricist Monika Larsson, blends opera voices with world class jazz soloists, a 21-piece jazz opera orchestra, dancers and chorus. Seldom has the classically trained voice played such a unique improvising roll as in this important, ground-breaking endeavor. Burrell's dance drama, Holy Smoke, with blue-print by Monika Larsson, is being developed for modern dance and tap. Burrell's Suite for Violin and Piano is completed and will be orchestrated for symphony orchestra.
Dave Burrell was recently featured on NPR's nationally syndicated show Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross. In January, 2006 Burrell performed solo piano at a symposium, The Lomax Legacy: Folklore in a Globalizing Century, presented by American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Washington, D.C.
Dave Burrell appears regularly on national and international TV and radio broadcasts, including NPR's Centennial Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton, Dr. Jazz, Duke Ellington's Centennial Duke and the Piano, Louis Armstrong's The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong, and Leonard Bernstein: An American Life.
Upcoming performances include the Vision Festival, New York City June 13 with Billy Martin, La Vilette in Paris September 7 with The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield, The Legacy Series, Kingston, New York, September 24 solo piano, Akbar Jazz Festival, Istanbul October 4 with Db3, and Bordeaux Jazz Festival, France November 9 with Burrell's Italian trio presenting his re-arrangement of La Vie de Boheme.
Burrell wrote an original score to Oscar Micheaux's black and white film Body and Soul (1925). Some of the music will be featured on Burrell's forthcoming CD, Db3 (High Two Records). Amulet Records new release, Consequences, features Dave Burrell and percussionist Billy Martin (Medeski, Martin and Wood). Burrell's project, Leena Conquest Sings the Songs of Dave Burrell, an original music cabaret by Dave Burrell and lyricist Monika Larsson will be recorded in Italy in September, 2006.
During the last 30 years Dave Burrell has appeared on over 100 recordings, 25 under his own name, (High, High Two, Echo, La Vie De Boheme, After Love, In-Sanity, Only Me, Dreams, Black Spring, Lush Life, ‘Round Midnight, Teardrops for Jimmy, Daybreak, Brother to Brother, Jelly Roll Joys, Esquisses for a Walk, Live at Caramoor, Recital, Expansion, Margy Pargy.)
Dave Burrell is renowned for his many pivotal recordings with tenor saxophonists Archie Shepp (Live from Pan-African Festival, There is a Trumpet in My Soul, Blasé, Attica Blues, The Cry of My People, Montreaux One, Montreaux Two, Lover Man), Pharoah Sanders (Tauhid), Marion Brown (Jubalee, Three For Shepp), David Murray (Lovers, Deep River, Ballads, Spirituals, Remembrances, Picasso, Windward Passages), and Odean Pope (Epitome, Chances and Changes).
A frequent lecturer, Burrell's Master Classes include Strasbourg Conservatory, Conservatoire Municipal (Paris), Guildhall School of Music and Dance (London), New York University, Queens College, University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, Duquesne University School of Music, Bard College, Tremblay Conservatory (Paris), Brandeis University, Rice University, DePauw University, Columbia University and Library of Congress.
Dave Burrell is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including National Endowment for the Arts, Philadelphia Music Foundation, William J. Cooper Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts, MidAtlantic Foundation, John Garcia Gensel Award and the Pew Fellowship in Jazz Composition.