Getting the most out of life is an activity Mike Markaverich enjoys to the fullest, so it shouldn't come as any surprise he possesses a robust, heartfelt laugh filled with the joy of life. With that in mind, it also shouldn't come as that much of a surprise that he can transmit those feelings through his fingers onto the keys of a piano to produce a mood, an aura, that makes you want to move with the rhythm. The talent this man possesses is obvious even to those who have little knowledge of jazz piano playing. Yet the extraordinary factor here is that Mike has never seen a piano in his life nor has he ever seen a musical note written on paper. In fact, this award-winning jazz pianist has never seen anything --- he is blind. 'A lot of people ask if I play by ear, ' says Mike, 'but I tell them usually I play the piano with my fingers.' And play he does! Like his mentors, Oscar Peterson and Dave McKenna, Mike is a two-fisted pianist. '(He) captures the drive and sound of an entire 'hard bop' quintet...like listening to a conversation between two friends --- his right and left hands --- who each have a different opinion on the same subject', states Paul Matthews of Cadence magazine. Mike's talent, however, is not all technique. He has the rare ability to combine technical brillance with the soul of emotion. Quoting Ron Della Chiesa, former host of WGBH radio's MusicAmerica, 'Coupled with a tremendous technical ability, Mike is also a pianist of rare sensitivity and warmth.' Mike began playing the piano at age 3 and started classical studies in the 4th grade. He studied jazz history, theory and improvisation with Dwike Mitchell and Willie Ruff, trumpeter Don Cherry, and French horn virtuoso Bob Northern. 'Music was always just a hobby for me until I got to college. Dwike told me I needed to bust it in order to make, and that's what I've tried to do.' After obtaining a B.A. in Music (with distinction) from Dartmouth College in 1971, he had advanced training at Rivier College in his native Nashua, NH, at Berklee College of Music with Luciano Salavatore, and with Billy Taylor's Jazz in July program at UMass. He was awarded an M.A. in Music from the University of New Hampshire. Possessing a prodigious memory, Mike has a vast repertoire at his disposal encompassing tunes from the 20's to present day. Jazz standards from Eillington to Monk, Cole Porter to Miles Davis aand the Gershwins to Horace Silver are all part of his inventory. 'I think it's great that the old tunes are becoming more popular again. There's so much great stuff out there, and I never stop getting excited about it.' Mainstream, straight-ahead jazz is Mike's strength, but he is equally comfortable with stride piano of traditional jazz, hard driving bop and blues, and sensitive renderings of pop and Broadway show tunes. He has had the benefit of working with and learning from such jazz greats as Dave McKenna, Maxine Sullivan, Dick Johnson, Marie Marcus, Bill Britto, Brian Torff, Bob Wilber, Ira Sullivan, and Buddy Defranco. Cape Cod, Massachusetts was the origin of Mike's professional career where he worked as a solo performer and in various combo settings in major area nightspots for over ten years, and in 1988 he relocated to Sarasota, Florida. Special events have included the Keys to the City Concert Series a the Regattabar/Charles Hotel in Boston, The UNH Traditional Jazz Series, the 1986 Great American Jazz Piano Competition, 2nd & 3rd Annual Jazz Festivals at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, and a 20th Reunion Concert at Hopkins Center/Dartmouth College. Past television appearances have included WCVB-Boston, WCUX-Hyannis, WTVT-Tampa, and WWSB-Sarasota. Mike's quick wit has been heard on WGBH-Boston, WQRC-Hyannis, and WAMR-Venice radio stations. He also finds time to teach privately and at the college level, conduct lectures and workshops, and took part in educational video for elementary students called Jazz Is... 'Monk said that there's no such thing as a wrong note, but I don't think I play too many,' he laughs. 'I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to Ray Charles once, and I asked him about his philosophy. He told me, 'Well, man, I don't attach that much purpose to money. I just like to be able to get people's minds off their problems.' I feel the same way. I'm just trying to get people off the uptight list. But when I'm working, you have to come say hello to me' cause I'm too busy looking at the keys.' This solo piano recording is an eclectic compilation of seasonal favorites and jazz standards. A feast for the ears! Enjoy!
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