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Ted Rosenthal
Ted Rosenthal

Ted Rosenthal is an acclaimed jazz pianist and composer known for his virtuosic playing style and inventive approach to music. Born and raised in Great Neck, New York, Ted began studying classical piano at an early age, but it was the allure of jazz that captured his heart. He pursued his passion for jazz at the Manhattan School of Music and quickly became a rising star in the jazz scene. Rosenthal gained widespread recognition when he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 1988, catapulting him into the forefront of the jazz world.

Throughout his career, Ted Rosenthal has collaborated with some of the finest musicians in the industry, including Phil Woods, Art Farmer, and Bob Brookmeyer. His discography boasts a diverse range of albums, where he seamlessly weaves traditional jazz standards with his original compositions. Not only is he a skilled performer, but Rosenthal’s talents extend into the realm of composition and education, making him a respected figure in the jazz community. With numerous accolades and critically acclaimed works under his belt, Ted Rosenthal continues to enchant audiences worldwide with his exceptional musicianship.

We recently sat down with Ted to discuss his career, upcoming projects, and the future of jazz.

Charles Carlini: Congratulations on your upcoming show at Zinc on Tuesday, September 19! What can the audience expect from your performance that night, and are you planning any surprises or unique musical arrangements for the show?

Ted Rosenthal: I’m really excited about my upcoming performance because it’ll be a wonderful blend of my arrangements of timeless Great American Songbook classics by artists like Gershwin and Rodgers, along with some delightful Jazz Tunes. I can’t wait to share my jazz trio’s unique “reimaginings” of classical music themes, which always add an interesting twist to the set. Of course, I’ll also be showcasing my original compositions, including some from my jazz opera, “Dear Erich.”

For this performance, I’m fortunate to have an incredible, swinging rhythm section with Peter Washington on bass and Willie Jones III on drums. Their talent and groove add so much to the overall sound, and I couldn’t have asked for better musicians to back me up on stage. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience for the audience, and I can’t wait to share the magic with everyone.

CC: Your career has been a fascinating journey through the world of jazz, from winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition to collaborating with renowned musicians. Can you share a particularly memorable moment or project that stands out to you in your career so far?

TR: Wow, there have been so many incredible highlights in my career! From playing in the legendary Gerry Mulligan Quartet during its final phase to sharing the stage with amazing musicians like Phil Woods and Bob Brookmeyer in various groups and duo concerts, it’s been an unforgettable journey.

One of my most significant achievements has been seeing my jazz opera, “Dear Erich,” come to life through its production and premiere at the prestigious New York City Opera. The experience of bringing this project to fruition was nothing short of amazing.

These milestones have shaped my musical path and provided me with priceless memories that I’ll cherish forever. The journey continues, and I’m excited to see where it takes me next!

CC: As a jazz pianist and composer, you’ve explored both classic jazz standards and original compositions. How do you strike a balance between honoring the traditions of jazz while also pushing the boundaries of the genre with your unique voice?

TR: The subject of contemplation that often occupies my thoughts is the creative process in jazz, something I also enjoy discussing with my immensely talented students at the Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard. My admiration for the jazz tradition runs deep, and I firmly believe that there is always more to explore within the styles established by the masters of this art form.

However, as a composer and arranger, I am constantly driven to think innovatively, seeking new ways to weave musical elements together. This exploration might take the form of crafting original compositions, experimenting with different structures and instrumentations, or even discovering fresh themes and musical materials to incorporate into the rich tapestry of jazz.

In my interactions with students, and in my own artistic journey, I encourage a particular perspective: rather than pressuring oneself to create something utterly “unique,” it’s more important to strive for a “personal voice.” This means embracing and expressing our own experiences, emotions, and perspectives through the medium of music, allowing our individuality to shine through.

In this way, we pay homage to the jazz tradition while also pushing the boundaries of creativity, forging new paths that resonate deeply with our own inner voices. It’s a fulfilling journey, one that keeps evolving, and I’m excited to continue exploring the boundless world of jazz with my students and within my own musical endeavors.

CC: Recently, you’ve been working on new projects and recordings. Could you tell us a bit about your latest endeavors and what inspired you during the creative process?

TR: I’ve got a considerable amount of repertoire that I’ve been performing live, but it’s yet to be recorded and officially released. It’s a diverse collection, comprising original compositions, imaginative reimaginings of classical themes, and more of my arrangements featuring the timeless Great American Songbook and Jazz Standards.

The anticipation of returning to the studio is building up, and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s a special kind of magic that happens during the recording process, and I can’t wait to capture these musical moments in a permanent form. It’s going to be an exciting journey, and I’m eager to share this music with the world once it’s all done.

CC: The jazz community has seen significant changes over the years. How do you feel the landscape of jazz has evolved, and what excites you most about the current state of jazz music?

TR: I must say, the level of playing among younger jazz musicians is simply astounding. It’s incredible to witness how much the jazz scene has flourished in New York City, with thriving jazz programs that didn’t even exist when I was in music school here.

The young musicians I encounter are truly impressive; not only do they deeply respect the jazz tradition, but they also have a burning desire to express themselves in fresh and innovative ways. Their thoughtful exploration of new avenues to expand the art form is both inspiring and exciting.

However, with so many talented emerging musicians, the challenge lies in finding enough opportunities for them to be heard and appreciated. It’s essential to support and provide platforms for these gifted individuals, which is why I’m grateful to anyone who lends a helping hand to this cause.

Your support and assistance in promoting these young talents are greatly appreciated. Together, we can contribute to the growth and vibrancy of the jazz community and ensure that their voices are heard loud and clear. Thank you for being a part of this journey!


Don’t miss the chance to experience Ted Rosenthal’s captivating performance at Zinc on Tuesday, September 19. To learn more about Ted, his music, and his upcoming gigs, visit his official website: Mark your calendars and join us for an unforgettable evening of jazz excellence!

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