Jazz pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik has been a staple on the New York jazz scene for over a decade. She's our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.

NAME: Leslie Pintchik

HOMETOWN: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up on Long Island. And I’ve been a Manhattan resident for most of my adult life.

MUSICAL TRAINING: My musical training was mostly a combination of private teachers (including classical pianist Lucy Greene, and jazz pianists Joanne Brackeen and Bruce Barth), and “on the job" training with gigs and jam sessions. I didn’t study music in school; I studied literature in college, and was a doctoral candidate in 17th century English literature at Columbia University, where I also taught English composition and literature on a teaching fellowship. It was during this time that I began studying piano.

FIRST GIGS: One of my first gigs was on the road with a commercial Polynesian revue, complete with two Hawaiian dancers, and a young college student moonlighting as “Chief Tahuna,” sporting only a skimpy loincloth, and carrying a torch. I was asked to wear a grass skirt, for a more “authentic” look. I didn’t. And it goes without saying that our version of Dean Martin’s pop hit “Tiny Bubbles” was a far cry—understatement!—from the Miles and Monk that had initially inspired me to play music.

MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk were two of my earliest inspirations; perhaps because both their voices were so singular and unique to themselves, hearing them gave me the courage to try to find my own way as a musician. Of course there are so many other musicians whose music has touched me; amongst them are pianists/composers Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Brazilian singers Joao Gilberto, Rosa Passos and Leila Pinheiro, saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Stan Getz, the classical pianist Richard Goode.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Lately I’ve gotten so much pleasure and joy from listening to Brazilian singers/composers/musicians. Amongst them: Ivan Lins, Leila Pinheiro, Rosa Passos, Joyce Moreno, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Joao Bosco.

MY BIG BREAK: Early in my career, I was playing the Sunday brunch gig at [famed New York City jazz club] Bradley’s in Manhattan. It was there that I met the great bassist Red Mitchell, who would often play there in the evenings for weeks at a time, when he was in town from Sweden. I was able to give him a duo tape of myself with guitarist Scott Hardy. Shortly after, Red hired Scott and me for a series of Sunday evenings at Bradley’s. Red later said about Scott and me that ours was a “marriage made on tape.”

Pintchik, Leslie You Eat My Food

LATEST PROJECTS: My latest CD You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! was just released this past February. It features my longtime bandmates Scott Hardy on bass and guitar, Michael Sarin on drums and Satoshi Takeishi on percussion. Also joining us as guest artists are saxophonist Steve Wilson, trumpeter Ron Horton, and Shoko Nagai on accordion.

FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? I’m grateful to have a Steinway B grand piano that I love. On gigs where I have to bring my own instrument, I enjoy my Nord Stage EX 76. It’s compact and portable, has a great weighted piano-like action, and I really enjoy using the vintage Fender Rhodes sound that I was able to download from their website and upload into the keyboard. A wonderful alternative for venues without pianos!

WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU? Hard to say, but I do hope to continue to write new material for my band, and to deepen and grow in the process. 

ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: My best advice would probably be to find fellow musicians/soulmates with whom to play and develop one's voice. It has given me great joy to play over many years with the superb musicians and friends who are part of my musical family. 

For more information visit www.lesliepintchik.com