Pianist * Songwriter * Music Director

Helping debut lots of new music

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of not only helping my friend Andy Mac record his new album, but also the band and I basically moved into the studio for a few days for the sessions (at Carriage House Studios, in Stamford). More often than not, as a freelancer I have my hand in several projects at once, and this was one of those few times that I was able to put everything else aside and simply focus on the music at hand. Besides being a great way to bond with your fellow musicians over the course of a project, making a record this way allowed us to dive into these songs and give them the very best that we had. Of course it helped to have a band of players who are not only first-rate musicians, but also kind and generous folks. I’m thrilled to be helping this record make its live debut this Saturday, March 23 at 7 PM at Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) along with Seth Ondracek (bass), Sean Dixon (drums), Adam Youngs (backing vocals) and Kelly Halloran (fiddle).

The following week on Sunday, March 30, I have the privilege of conducting one of the pieces for the annual HaZamir gala concert. HaZamir is a network of choral chapters for Jewish teens across the US and Israel; I conduct the Manhattan chapter in its weekly rehearsals. The season culminates in this concert every season, in a major NYC concert hall (in this case, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center). What can I say about this program that hasn’t already been said? It’s a beautiful thing. These kids learn Jewishness in its many facets - they come from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds, and yet the thing that unites them is the music. On top of that, this organization commissions new and exciting works. My assignment is to conduct a new and thrilling setting of “Pitchu Li” (a text from Psalms - “Open for me the gates of righteousness”) by the acclaimed composer and cantor Gerald Cohen.

I haven’t yet re-entered the world of songwriting and solo gigs, but I will soon. I promise. I can’t stay away forever. When I have some dates for you, they’ll be posted here.

Til then…


Back in the saddle

My apologies for the relative radio silence on this page as of late. I’ve undergone some pretty dramatic life changes over the past few months which have required me to focus most (or sometimes all) of my attention on my family. While I do not usually post highly personal information in this forum, I make an exception here - about 8 weeks ago, my wife and I welcomed a beautiful, healthy baby boy into the world. We are overjoyed to have him in our lives (middle-of-the-night feedings and all), but unfortunately that joy has been matched by an equal amount of sorrow; four days after our son was born, my mother passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Two days later, my last living grandparent - my Zaydie - passed away at the age of 93.

I took some time off in the immediate aftermath from gigging and teaching in order both to grieve and to bond with our son. After a few weeks, I began going back to work - rehearsing, playing gigs and the like - but I refrained from doing any kind of self-promotion during that time, including almost nothing on social media. Besides being too tired to post in a coherent manner, it just didn’t seem like the right time to say “look at me, look at my cool life”. I’m not swearing off social media, and I’ll be back to it in good time, it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do with everything else that was going on.

In any case, part of my reason for writing this is to let the world know that I am, indeed, back to work and have some exciting things in the pipeline. Wicked Frozen is winding down its off-Broadway run with three more shows at the St. Luke’s Theater, so if you were thinking about grabbing tickets, now is the time. Coming up I also have the annual winter holiday concert with Uncommon Chord, a 10-person vocal jazz ensemble that I’ve conducted for the past five years. We’ll be at the Triad on Saturday the 16th for a 7 PM show that is coming together really nicely. And as always, there is more in the offing.

Thanks as always for reading and checking in on my various projects. See you somewhere down the line.

Out with the old, in with the new

Just last week, my family and I celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. While the secular new year starts in the dead of winter, celebrating a new year in the fall always feels appropriate to me - we come back from summer refreshed and ready to get down to business. For me, summer is usually a less busy period (though less so this year…) as a few of my steady projects take a break for the summer, so it feels right to mark a new year as a new season is starting for some of the ensembles that I work with. But enough philosophizing, here’s what I have on tap…

First off, Wicked Frozen has been extended through the end of December! I’ll be in and out of the production a bit this month, but I will be back as the main pianist and music director in November. I’ll post those dates once I know exactly when I’ll be returning to the show. It’s been so much fun to see this show grow and evolve during its run at the St. Luke’s Theater and I’m thrilled to see the run get extended.

This month I’m also doing a one-off reunion show with my friends in Food Will Win the War, with whom I played and toured for the better part of six years. This one is at a gorgeous art loft space in SoHo - Tuesday, Sept 25. Check the Calendar page for details.

Then, later in the month I’ll be bringing back my own band for a one-off at Hank’s Saloon - one of the last shows at Hank’s before they close up and move to a new location at the Brooklyn Food Hall. So many friends of mine have graced the stage, which has become a second home for scores of independent and up-and-coming artists. This one will be Saturday, September 29; we play at 9, followed by Alice & the Underground and then Andi Rae and the Back River Bullies.

What else? Well, I’m about to kick off my 9th season conducting HaZamir Manhattan, my 2nd conducting Shir Chadash, and my 6th with jazz vocal group Uncommon Chord. I’m also MD’ing a staging of the children’s musical The Orphan Train at the Manhattan JCC and continuing my teaching work at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America…. I think that’s it?

As always, keep checking back here (and on the calendar page) for more details. Wishing you all a happy fall (and a happy 5779)!

Summer in the City

Summer is always an interesting time for me as a musician. Many of my 'steady' gigs are off until the fall which leaves me lots of time for writing and taking on projects that I wouldn't normally have time to take. It's also sometimes nerve-wracking, not always knowing where those next projects will come from, but there's always something interesting in the works and this summer is no exception.

This Saturday, June 16 I'll be music directing vocal ensemble Uncommon Chord in their semi-annual feature show; I've been their MD for 5 years now and this fantastic 10-voice ensemble does vocal jazz in the vein of Manhattan Transfer and Singers Unlimited. We'll be at the Triad, a gem of a venue on the Upper West Side (one of very few venues in my old neighborhood). Start time is 7 PM (see the Calendar page for full details).

Then the following day I'll be heading up to the Carriage House, a beautiful recording studio in Stamford, CT to start work on my friend Andy Mac's new record, 'A Record of What Has Occurred'. I am incredibly excited to work with Andy - with whom I've shared the stage on many a gig over the years - and his top notch band as we start bringing these songs to life. I'll post here once the record is ready for release.

The other big thing coming up is that in a couple of weeks I will be stepping in as music director of the off-Broadway hit show Wicked Frozen! Written by my friends Toby Singer and Zoe Farmingdale, Wicked Frozen is a hilarious musical mash-up of the two blockbuster Broadway hits; it's tuneful and wacky in the best possible way, but like its source material, has something meaningful to say. The show runs on Sundays at 7:30 at the St. Luke's Theater (click here for tickets).

Lastly, I'll be back at Bar Chord for a couple of dates over the summer, bringing back my songwriters-in-the-round nights, swapping songs and stories with some of my favorite local writers. Those dates are July 5 and August 2, 9-midnight.

Lots of exciting things are in the works, and I can't wait to get started!

My two homes - Brooklyn and Akron

First to the important news - I've booked a quasi-last-minute show over at Pete's Candy Store for Thursday, Dec 28 at 8:30. I always enjoy hanging out there and it's been way too long since I've done a show of my own in their train-car-shaped performance space (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the venue sometime, it's definitely one of the more unique spaces I've played at in NYC). There's no cover - and the L train is still working!

I'm also going to be in my hometown of Akron, OH for a show with long time friend and stage buddy Brian Lisik on Thursday, January 25 at Jilly's Music Room. This one is super-early too! 5:00-7:30ish, so maybe consider us for an after-work hang?

These past few weeks have been chock-full of choral concerts, cantorial concerts, holiday parties... just about every kind of engagement a busy accompanist / MD type can handle. I'm even back to playing on a cruise ship for one night only (subbing for my neighbor, who happens to play the piano nightly on the Bateaux, cruising out of Chelsea Piers)! It's a nice throwback to my pre-NY days working for Princess Cruises (back when I was young and quasi-clean-shaven).

Besides the Akron jaunt, there's plenty to look forward to in 2018 including the annual HaZamir Gala Concert, which takes place March 18 at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. As always my answer, when asked "what kind of music do you play?", is simply... "yes". That's the way I like it and the way I hope it stays... til next time, wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday season however you observe it, and a happy 2018!

Birthdays and Reunions

Now that the fall is officially upon us (at least the temperatures in Brooklyn have dipped below 70 from time to time), I'm coming up on that time-honored tradition... the birthday gig. Truthfully there's no other way that I'd want to celebrate another trip around the sun than by playing music with close friends. So this one will be THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9 at BAR CHORD, one of my favorite neighborhood hangouts. Besides having the full band with me, I'll have some guest artists (who happen to be longtime friends of mine and with whom I suspect I'll be sitting in). First up will be BRIAN LISIK, stalwart rock n roller from my hometown of Akron, OH. We've known each other since he was sent by a small local paper to cover a show by the band I played with in high school (yup, it's been that long). Since then we've shared the stage numerous times, both around Ohio and in New York. After that, we have the power couple of Abby Ahmad and Mark Marshall, also known as FIFE AND DROM. They play one of the gutsiest, dirtiest brands of blues and boogie I've heard around this fair city. (Can you tell I'm excited for this one?)

Later next month, I'll be playing a one-off with my friends in FOOD WILL WIN THE WAR, a Brooklyn indie-folk collective with whom I played, toured and recorded for several years. I'm excited to re-join the band for a show at the Park Church Co-op, an old Greenpoint church that has hosted some of Brooklyn's best independent artists over the past few years. We'll be dusting off some old tunes and re-working them to suit this acoustically (and visually) stunning space. That happens on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18 at 8 pm (other artists on the bill will be announced soon).

You can get tickets, venue locations and more at the Calendar page.

School days and Holidays

September is here, and so begins a new season for HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir! This is my 8th season conducting the Manhattan chapter and we have an exciting season ahead. Our choral network is now up to 37 chapters across the US and Israel (!), and in March we'll be bringing everyone to New York for a concert at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. Click here for more information on HaZamir.

I've also added another choral directing position to my work load (because three wasn't enough!). I'm excited to be taking over as conductor of Shir Chadash: The Brooklyn Jewish Community Chorus, for which I had previously served as accompanist. We have some exciting performances coming up this year, including one in June at my home synagogue, Flatbush Jewish Center. For more about Shir Chadash, visit the chorus's website.

For the upcoming High Holiday season, I will be returning to Congregation Rodeph Sholom on Manhattan's Upper West Side as an accompanist. This has been a wonderful place to work for the past two seasons and I'm looking forward to more enjoyable, meaningful music-making.

On the songwriting front, my next show is Thursday, November 9 at Bar Chord, where I've hosted a number of songwriter nights over the past year. The occasion for this gig is... well, it's my birthday and I'll be inviting a bunch of folks to play, so stay tuned (all details will be on the Calendar page).

Lastly, I'm knee-deep into marathon training mode as I'll be running the NYC Marathon for the second year in a row. Look for me on November 5!

Thanks for checking out the new site! I'm still tinkering with a few things so you might see some change in the coming weeks.