A stellar outing that introduces a group that plays with an interactive verve and elegance...a knockout listening experience.
Debbie Poryes discovered the piano at age five, and loved practicing Chopin and show tunes until Simon and Garfunkel came along. She then switched to singing and playing guitar. Those early guitar years of figuring out music from records was the beginning of a lifelong fascination with harmony, music theory and listening closely and passionately to the structure of music. When she heard jazz for the first time at age 18, she wondered where this incredible music had been all her life. It inspired her to return to the piano, listening to and learning from her new and continuing heroes -- Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, and other greats. In those days there were no jazz courses at U.C. Berkeley, so she decided to stop going to school and devote herself full-time to jazz piano.
Poryes had her first regular gig when she was 20 years old playing five nights a week (from 5 p.m. to midnight!) for a year at Martino's Restaurant in Berkeley, where she certainly learned a lot of tunes! Throughout the 1970s she performed in many clubs and restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as for private parties of all sorts. She also worked in many other professional settings - from solo piano to big band - including two summers as the pianist for Make-A-Circus, a non-profit organization that provided free shows for children in public parks.
During this time, Debbie studied with various classical and jazz teachers in the Bay Area, including Art Lande and Jeanne Stark. She also started teaching privately, and taught ear training in Art Lande's jazz school in Berkeley, CA.
Debbie spent most of the 1980s in The Netherlands, where she held tenured positions in the jazz departments of two Dutch conservatories in Hilversum and Arnhem. She became fluent in Dutch, and her students loved her sunny California disposition and her patient and encouraging manner. Because Debbie loves classical harmony and its application to jazz harmony, she has always been involved with finding ways to communicate the beauty of western compositional thinking to her jazz students.
During these years she also recorded a trio record for Timeless Records. German and Dutch jazz magazine reviews for that record praised her playing as "crystal clear"...."with the swinging elegance of Tommy Flanagan combined with the depth of Bill Evans."
Debbie also worked and recorded as arranger and accompanist for several Dutch and American singers. She toured throughout Europe with her own trios, quartets and various other ensembles, including an eleven-piece group led by bassist John Clayton. She played at both the Bimhuis and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the September Club in Antwerp, New Morning in Paris, Quasimodo in Berlin, and many of the various jazz festivals in Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. She also composed soundtracks for the Dutch documentary film company "Codia Audiovisual" and continued to develop her own jazz compositions. She returned to the United States in 1990 as a well seasoned, world-traveled veteran.
After developing tendonitis in her wrists, Poryes was unable to play for two years. Beginning in 1991, she completely revised her technique, adopting the principles of coordinative movement of the hands, fingers and arms, developed by Dorothy Taubman and Edna Golandsky. She was able to resume a full-time career as a jazz musician and teacher and credits this approach with helping her to have more complete control of her touch and sound.
In 2007, she recorded her second CD, "A Song in Jazz," on the Jazzschool Records label. It features Bill Douglass on bass (Marian McPartland, Mose Allison) and David Rokeach on drums (Ray Charles, Jersey Boys). The highly acclaimed recording received outstanding reviews, and sold copies across the country as well as in Japan and England. Brad Walseth of Jazz Chicago wrote, "Poryes' playing is confident, yet playful, thoughtful, but full of life," and Dan McClenaghan of All About Jazz called it "a knockout listening experience." The CD made the #1 slot on the Canadian Jazz Earshot chart, and the Top Ten in more than 20 American cities. The February 2008 Jazzschool CD release concert was sold out, recorded, and aired on KCSM, and the Trio immediately received a performance date at Yoshi's.
Poryes has been a faculty member of the Berkeley Jazzschool since 2000, teaching jazz piano and functional harmony. She also maintains a large private teaching studio with more than 30 students. Poryes is a member of the Music Teachers' Association of California and the Jazz Education Network. She continues to refine her piano technique with classical teacher John Bloomfield, and regularly performs throughout the Bay Area. Her recent solo and ensemble performances include appearances at Yoshi's Jazzclub, the Oakland Museum, the Jazzschool, the Berkeley Piano Club, the 2009 Healdsburg Jazz Festival, and many other venues.
Poryes has recorded a new quartet CD, "Catch Your Breath," which will be released on Origin Records (voted 2009 Jazz Label of the Year at the JazzWeek awards in New York) in March 2010. The new recording features four new original compositions in addition to Debbie's imaginative arrangements of standards. She lives in Orinda, CA with her husband and daughter.
For more information about Debbie Poryes, please visit: http://www.debbieporyes.com.