A trio of former Juilliard students will be playing an intimate concert at the Episcopal Church of St. Peter by-the-Lake in Denver on Feb. 9. Ben Rosenblum, an internationally-touring jazz pianist, accordionist and composer based in New York City, will be joined by Dan Chmielinski on bass and Ben Zweig on drums.
“I’ve toured with Ben a lot,” he said. “I play with Dan in New York and this is actually the first time I’ve taken him on the road with us. So far, he’s been amazing.”
Originally from New York City, which Rosenblum said is a good place to be if you’re growing up an aspiring jazz musician, he started with classical piano when he was five years old. His mother was a huge jazz fan and she introduced him to the genre.
“Before I knew about jazz, my favorite thing to do on the piano was to play without any music – to just play and let my mind lead me to melodies,” he said. “When I learned that there was a whole genre of music that trains you to be able to do this and to do it with other people, I was hooked.”
Rosenblum started playing jazz when he was 12 or 13 and never looked back. He’s been performing for about 10 years and he’s been fortunate to have been able to put out CDs. Rosenblum has toured throughout the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.
“While I was in college, I picked up the accordion which has become a unique sound to me,” he said. “It’s a pretty rare instrument in the jazz world. I usually play a couple of numbers with the accordion in a concert. It’s a nice change of pace.”
Getting into Juilliard is not easy. In the whole jazz program at Juilliard there are usually no more than 10 jazz pianists at any given time.
“They probably accept two or three jazz pianists in a year,” Rosenblum said. “I did a unique program in that I took classes at Columbia University and at Juilliard at the same time, so I had to go through both admission processes. The Juilliard process involved a pre-screening, a recording that I sent them as well as a live audition which was particularly intimidating. They had us not only play songs that we prepared but also, we had to do exercises where they would change keys in the middle of us playing and not tell us which keys they changed. We had to figure out how to improvise through it. It’s changed a lot since I applied but it’s definitely a scary process. I feel very fortunate that I was able to get in and attend the school because I learned a lot.”
While at Juilliard, Rosenblum was able to study with pianist Frank Kimbrough who is from North Carolina.
“I learned just as much, if not more, from my peers who are all incredible musicians,” he said. “They consistently challenged me to do better.”
The concert will be held on Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. at Episcopal Church of St. Peter by-the-Lake, which is located at 8433 Fairfield Forest Road in Denver. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, seniors and students are $10 and children under 12 are free.
For more information, visit http://www.saintpeterbythelake.net/concertseries. Watch the trio perform live in Orlando from their most recent tour of the Southeast in February 2019. “Seeds of Sin” (Wayne Shorter): https://youtu.be/eZXvvmvo3fE and “Make Them Hear You” (Stephen Flaherty): https://youtu.be/S-JNrcywCk8