For more than 40 years, Carnegie Hall has partnered with local community organizations – such as Flushing Town Hall – to bring renowned main-stage artists and exciting rising stars of classical, jazz, and world music to neighborhoods from the tip of Brooklyn to the top of the Bronx.
These free Neighborhood Concerts bring together local residents and people from throughout the city to share in the joy of music. This season, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute is celebrating this achievement with outstanding live performances in community venues New York City as part of its free series of Neighborhood Concerts.
On Friday, January 15th, Flushing Town Hall is proud to present jazz pianist John Chin
and his Quintet in collaboration with Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concerts. Appearing on stage with John (Piano and Keyboard) will be Stacy Dillard (Saxophone), Lucas Pino (Saxophone), Ari Hoenig (Drums), and Sean Conly (Bass).
The event is free and starts at 7:30 PM. You can RSVP here.
John Chin was introduced to music at a very young age. Born in Seoul, South Korea, his family had relocated to Los Angeles, where he engaged in video games, basketball and skateboarding.
But in his family’s home, music was a constant presence – and shaped his future. His parents – his father in particular – were music lovers, and there was always music playing in his home. A piano held a certain fascination for him.
“Music was always playing in the house and there was a piano that I starting playing when I was about 4 years old. I got my first set of piano lessons soon after that,” he says. “I remember my first piano teacher being so nice to me and I was so eager to learn. I remember playing songs on piano for my kindergarten class. I think that may have been my first performance!”
He recalls having a “genuine curiosity” on how to play by ear at a young age, and the piano gave him a “deeper love and understanding of music which gives me a deeper love and understanding of seemingly everything around me.”
He began studying jazz at California State University, which he attended when he was 14 years old as part of the Early Entrance Program for Gifted Students. Upon receiving his B.A. in Music at 19, he continued his musical studies at the University of North Texas, before pursuing a Masters of Music degree from Rutgers University (under the tutelage of master pianist and composer Kenny Barron), and an Artist Diploma from the world-renowned Juilliard School.
His extensive experience in the classroom would lay the foundation for his own pedagogy; his experience and reputation have led to teaching opportunities the world over, while helping to sustain a New York studio of his own, located in Brooklyn (where he now lives).
“Not the part of Brooklyn where everyone thinks all the cool kids are,” he says, “but in a slice of Brooklyn where there are a bunch of working Jazz musicians and blue collar people (at least, in my building) living in rent stabilized apartments. The neighborhood is changing fast for sure, but for now and hopefully a while, it’s home.”
John has performed internationally as a leader and sideman, at many major festivals, as well as some of America’s most important and storied jazz rooms. He has shared the stage with Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jaimeo Brown, Mark Turner, Dayna Stephens, Irvin Mayfield, Joel Frahm, John Ellis, Chris Cheek, Ari Hoenig, and Grammy nominated vocalist, Rene Marie, with whom he is currently on tour.
He is a prolific composer, drawing inspiration from the jazz, pop, and western classical traditions. He released “Blackout Conception” (2008), “Undercover” (2014), and “Songs After Hours” in December 2015 on the Albany Records label (which features the world premiere recording of some published and unpublished work of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison).
“There is a feeling I get when I hear something I like,” he says. “It might be a groove or a lyric or something spectacular, like a great feat or something. I love something sublime, even melancholy. While it’s sometimes hard to ignore, the style of music I pay less attention to when determining what I like. It’s the artist and intention I’m more interested in. It’s like when I would listen to the great jazz soloists, I would try and get inside their heads and understand why they played what they played.”
His inspiration comes from random places.
“When I wrote ‘Undercover’, it just came to me, and the inspiration for the title came from my landlord at the time who was a cop for the NYPD,” he says. “‘I Won’t Argue With You’ was originally from a musical I co wrote. There’s a scene where a mother is talking to her son and she is disapproving of a relationship that her son is having. She’s having this conversation with her son about it and finally says (sings) to him, ‘I can’t tell you who is beautiful and who isn’t. I see scars; you see beauty. I won’t argue with you.’ So the song is about that release, that moment.”
Later this year, he is releasing a new jazz quintet recording, “The Fifth”, featuring Stacy Dillard (Saxophone), Tivon Pennicott (Saxophone), Spencer Murphy (bass), and Lawrence Leathers (Drums). And, he is currently working on a feature length film to tracks from that recording.
(You will be able to get a taste of “The Fifth” at John’s January 15th program at Flushing Town Hall.)
He also is continuing my work as a teaching artist for Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections outreach program. This year, he will be working on the Lullaby Project assisting young, pregnant mothers write lullabies for their unborn children.
“This is one of the most worthwhile things that I get to do and I feel so fortunate to be a part of such a great program; helping make a positive contribution in these young mothers’ lives is so amazingly fulfilling,” he says.
“In all of my performances, I always strive for something that creates story, a narrative,” he says. “As improvisers and performers, the audience plays such a crucial role for us because they, too, are a part of the performance whether they realize it or not! Together in this performance we will be a community and we will be playing out hearts out.”
Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concerts began in the 1975–1976 season as part of an agreement between Carnegie Hall and the City of New York to provide free public concerts and other cultural programming across the city. Today, the series continues to fulfill Carnegie Hall’s mission to bring the transformative power of music to the widest possible audience. During the program’s 40-year history, over one thousand concerts have been performed by more than 350 artists in genres ranging from Indian classical to bluegrass, from chamber music to salsa. Performances have taken place in at least 200 different venues, including museums, schools, and libraries as well as community, cultural, and religious centers, bringing great music out of the concert hall and into the community. You can learn more at: carnegiehall.org.