Charles Blenzig


Charles Blenzig is a composer, arranger, keyboard player and percussionist who slips effortlessly among musical idioms while retaining his own distinctive sound. Hard-driving bop, electronic funk, lean straight ahead jazz, lush orchestral arrangements, pensive solo piano: all bear his innovative signature.

Blenzig's debut recording - an eclectic mix of electric jazz, acoustic ballads and back-beat grooves-was released in 1989 (Charles Blenzig, Chase Music Group, 8022). It featured Mike Stern, Will Lee, Chris Hunter on saxophone and Joe Bonadio on drums.

The following year, Blenzig played with Eddie Gomez and Randy Brecker on We Remember Pastorious, a star-studded album commemorating the departed jazz luminary (Toshiba/EMI/E.A.U., TOCJ5616). He also contributed his own solo piano composition, îA View from West Third Streetî, to that recording And in 1992 Blenzig performed on Just Advance, Kenwood Dennard's debut recording as a leader, along with Hiram Bullock, Marcus Miller and Delmar Brown (Bid World Music, BW2006). In 1994 his light touch graced Groove Island (AMCM/Atlantic #4197) by Takeshi Ito of T Square.

Soon after the release of his first album, Blenzig found himself playing keyboards for Michael Franks on his 1990 six-month Blue Pacific tour. that engagement gave him exposure throughout the U.S. and Japan, including television appearances on VH-1, CBS's Sunday Morning and a one-hour special for Japanese television, Michael Franks Live in Tokyo. In 1993 he held down the keyboard slot for the dranfly Summer tour, this time serving as musical director as well. Highlights of that tour included a Japanese television special (Michael Franks Live at the Blue Note), numerous appearances on U.S. television, and opening the brand new Jakarta Blue Note.

His second album-Say What You Mean (Big World BW2009)-boasted some of the East Coast's heaviest hitters: Michael Brecker and Alex Foster on saxophones, Mike Stern on guitar, Will Lee on bass (he also produced), Dennis Chambers on drums and Manolo Badrena on percussion. Even before the mix down, this Big World project generated an excited buzz in the New York jazz community.

Always eager to stretch his musical boundaries, Blenzig toured Europe in 1994 with Bill Evans and Push, a project that tapped into his free-wheeling improvisational abilities. Fusing jazz with avant hip hop and rap, Push made good use of Blenzig's unerring rhythmic insticts. The evidence was released on a Live in Europe album(Lipstick). Their tour of Japan early in 1995 included the Blue Notes in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, as well as New York City. Soon after, Blenzig brought his own group to a successful engagement at the Jakarta Blue Note. No matter which continent or what sort of venue, he's happiest when playing.

Throughout the 90's he performed with the venerable Gil Evans Orchestra at its steady Monday night engagement at Sweet Basil in New York playing with the likes of George Adams, Mark Egan, Miles Evans, Gil Goldstein, Darryl Jones, Dave Mann and Lou Soloff. As a sideman he has also worked with Horacee Arnold, Joe Beck, Larry Coryell, Ursula Dudziak, Victor Jones, Boney James and Michael Urbaniak. Charles has been working with guitarist Jack Lee since 1993 when he recorded Gracefulee (Polydor POCJ-1211). Since that time he has performed on numerous tours of Korea which included appearances on T.V. and radio. They also recorded together on Jack's fourth release Where My Heart Goes (Daehong BDJC 50101) which was followed by a tour of Indonesia.

Charles' latest release Certain Standards on the Truspace label is an intimate acoustic trio setting which unites him with two of his favorite musicians. Kenny Davis on bass and Gene Jackson on drums. Both Gene and Kenny have performed in the Herbie Hancock group. During the past decade this trio has had countless engagements in New York City and finally has come together to create this stellar recording. Charles' arrangements put a new twist on classic American songs.
Michael Brecker has reviewed the record and said:
"One thing certain about "Certain Standards" is that it's a splendid recording. Charles, Kenny, and Gene add their masterful stamp to the ever growing art of the piano trio".

Born and raised in New York, he attended Manhattanville College in order to study with Roland Kohloff, timpanist with the New York Philharmonic. That classical training accounts for his pecounts for his percussive playfulness and his uncanny ability to communicate with other musicians, on stage and off. Despite his heavy touring and recording schedule, Blenzig is now Director of Jazz Studies at the college himself.

Charles Blenzig's sensitivity, technical assurance and broad palette make him a musician's musicians. But even the most casual listener will be captivated by the ebullience of his playing, the insight of his arrangements and the visionary diversity of his compositions.

Select Discography

Walk Your Dogma - Michael Pope (Walk Your Dogma Music, 1996)
Live in Europe - Bill Evans (Lipstick, 1995)
Where My Heart Goes - Jack Lee (Polydor, 1995)
Groove Island - Takeshi Ito (East/West, 1994)
The Syndicate of Soul - Tommy McDonnell (Shanachie, 1994)
Flight of the Spirit - Norman Headman (Monad, 1994)
Gracefulee - Jack Lee (Polydor, 1993)
Say What You Mean - Charles Blenzig (Big World Music, 1993)
Just Advance - Kenwood Dennard (Big World Music, 1992)
We Remember Pastorius - Various Artists (Toshiba/EMI/EAU, 1991)
When Dolphins Fly - Doug Munroe (Optimism, 1990)
Charles Blenzig - Charles Blenzig (Chase Music Group, 1990)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Various Artists (Rhino, 1989)