Thursday, January 5, 2012

Get to Know: Kris Bowers

Kris Bowers won the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition this past fall. Besides being a great honor, as the winner he was given a contract with Concord Records, which will produce his "debut" recording as a leader in 2012.  

After reading this and thinking the name seemed familiar, I went to my disc collection and found what I recalled having --  his true debut recording, a 2010 Japanese-issued disc, "Blue in Green", an acquisision I had made in 2010 because the melodies were familiar and the supporting cast -- Ben Williams on bass and Clarence Penn on drums -- were familiar to me. At the time, I had no indication that I was purchasing the music of an up and coming star, only that I was taking a chance on a somewhat expensive Japanese import.
I am glad to say the purchase of this disc, "Blue and Green", was worth the price. Bowers, who was 19 when it was recorded in 2008, demostrates a really nice combination of expression and sensitive touch, as well as a sure ear that reworked the compositions to keep them fresh for the listeners. Without straying too far from the straight and narrow path blazed by some of those who played or wrote these tunes -- Red Garland, Herbie Hancock among others -- his interpretations are assured and lovely to listen to. The disc has 2 Bowers originals and 9 interpretations, and highlights include Maiden Voyage, Nardis, and the title track

For those who are interested, or for those who cannot wait for his domestic release, "Blue in Green" today is pricier than when I picked it up.  I see it on Ebay for $ 29.99, and on Eastwind Imports for $ 39.00, but maybe with a little internet hunting listeners will be able to hear this first recording of an up and coming star.

For those who may not have followed the Monk awards and subsequent blogs and articles about Bowers, he is a native of Los Angeles, California, and received his bachelor of music degree in Jazz Studies at Juilliard, where he studied privately with Frank Kimbrough and Kenny Baron. He is currently at Julliard working on his Master's in Jazz Performance, with a focus on film composisiton, according  to the Julliard website. Kris has played or recorded with jazz artists including Terell Stafford, Vincent Herring, and Louis Hayes; and has been priviledge to have performed for Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and President Barrack Obama.

His biography is readily available at




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