Courtesy of the artist
Pianist and composer Roberta Piket stands among the elite minds of modern jazz.
Pianist and composer Roberta Piket stands among the elite minds of modern jazz. Courtesy of the artist
"Make Someone Happy" (J. Styne)
"In the Days of Our Love" (M. McPartland, P. Lee)
"Claude's Clod" (R. Piket)
"D Song" (J. Weber)
"For Uncle Harvey" (R. Piket)
"Monk's Dream" (T.S. Monk)
"If I Loved You" (R. Rodgers, O. Hammerstein)
"I Thought About You" (J. Van Heusen, J. Mercer)
"Flight" (B. Mintz)
Pianist and composer Roberta Piket was born in Queens, N.Y. She began studying piano with her father, composer Frederick Piket, at age 7 and began playing jazz in her early teens. After high school, she entered a joint double-degree program at Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music, earning a degree in computer science from the former and a degree in jazz studies from the latter. During this time, she studied privately with Fred Hersch, Stanley Cowell, Jim McNeely and Bob Moses, and later with Richie Beirach and Sofia Rosoff.
A gifted composer, Piket was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk BMI Composers' Competition, and is considered both a swinging, straight-ahead jazz player and a thoughtful inventor of original and improvised music. For her "Nabokov Project," Piket arranged five poems by Vladimir Nabokov for piano, violin, mezzo-soprano with percussion, and speaker. Her recordings are met with regular acclaim in the jazz press, and she remains a busy educator, as well. Piket has also recently added singing to her resume.
On this Piano Jazz session, Roberta Piket opens the program with her heady yet playful take on "Make Someone Happy, " and follows with a tune by Marian McPartland, who mentored Piket: "In the Days of Our Love."
Piket's original tune, a challenging minor key arrangement titled "Claude's Clod," blends expansive rhythm chords with furious right-hand leads.
"Wow! It sounds like contemporary classical music, and yet you improvise over it," guest host Jon Weber says. "It's incredible."
Weber answers with his original, "D Song." He delivers a solid left-hand melody with right-hand splashes in the manner of Bill Evans. The late master's spirit hangs over the piece. Weber performed it in the 1980s with members of Evans' last trio, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera.
Piket's tune, "For Uncle Harvey," is a duet performance of this delicate piece written as a tribute to a dear member of her family. She follows with her take on "Monk's Dream." Thelonious Monk is a major influence on her compositions, and Piket has no trouble getting into the concept of his tune.
"Monk is such a wonderful composer," Piket says. "His compositions are very distinct, but also open and easy to be creative over."
In "If I Loved You" — from Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical, Carousel — Piket introduces her vocals to the program, and even adds a bit of scat singing.
The pair ends on a set of duets: the standard "I Thought About You," followed by the Coltrane-like changes of "Flight." Both pianists get a workout and take their 88 keys through some giant steps to close this installment of Piano Jazz.
Originally recorded Jan. 12, 2011. Originally broadcast Feb. 22, 2011.