Aug 19, 2013
"I hear in Luke Celenza a young gifted jazz musician who has the right inquisitive attitude and true potential to become one of the key players in the scene. He brings to the table a fresh sound and an uncommon restrained maturity in his music which I am sure will keep on delighting us for many years to come. ”- Michel Camilo
Those looking for the next wave of talented jazz musicians need not look further than the new CD by Luke Celenza. He only recently turned 21-years-old, and it has already been almost ten years since he was accepted into the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) Pre-College Jazz Division. Now at Julliard, he is a regular performer around the Manhattan jazz scene.
His debut CD, Back and Forth, is a showcase not just for his writing and playing, but his status as bandleader. He has surrounded himself with some of the top young players in the city, including bassist Joshua Twombley (listen to Terence Blanchard sing his praises in Podcast 359), drummer Jimmy Macbride and saxophonist Lucas Pino.
A protégé of Michel Camilo, Celenza writes and plays in a style not unlike his hero, Brad Mehldau, not bothering with academic exercises in time signature or chords, but concentrating on mood, sound and melody. He is currently working on a new CD that will follow Mehldau into the area of electronica.
I spoke with Luke just after he returned from South America, and we talked about his creative process, what other students ask him about jazz, and his brother’s cooking show, for which he writes the scores. Listen to Podcast 370, which features musical selections such as:
Terence Blanchard – “Jacob’s Ladder” from Magnetic. Celenza is full of praise for his bassist and friend Twombley, who wrote this song for, and plays on, the latest Terence Blanchard album.
Luke Celenza – “River Rhodes” and “Mudslide” from Back and Forth. Two very different tunes from the debut CD, and two great stories of how they came to be.
Brad Mehldau – “Kurt Vibe” from Ode. A trio outing by this talented pianist, this time with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. Celenza thinks – as do many others – that Brad is the finest pianist in jazz today.