The American pianist, Dan Tepfer, was born to American parents in Paris, France in 1982. He began classical piano studies at age 6 at the Paris Conservatoire Paul Dukas. He took a somewhat circuitous route to a jazz career, earning a bachelors degree in astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. But beginning even as a toddler, Dan explored improvisation on his own. He played extensively on the jazz scene in college and enjoyed a brief stint as an opera conductor. After graduating in 2005 from Boston’s New England Conservatory, where he completed his masters under the guidance of Danilo Perez, Dan moved to New York and quickly became an in-demand player and composer. Dan’s numerous awards include first prize and audience prize at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition, first prize at the 2006 East Coast Jazz Festival Competition, and first prize at the 2007 competition of the American Pianists Association.
Dan Tepfer is a New York-based pianist and composer and one of the most formidable jazz musicians on the international stage - hailed as “brilliant” by The Boston Globe, “remarkable” by The Washington Post, a “player of exceptional poise” by the New York Times, “a singular voice” by Libération (France). “Tepfer eschews jarring dissonances, gratuitous clusters or poundings,” raves Down Beat magazine. “He has the ability to disappear into the music as he’s making it.”
By age 29, Dan Tepfer has developed a rare improvisational gift and a complex yet deeply melodic approach to music. He has performed the world over in contexts ranging from solo piano to full orchestra, exploring a wide variety of idioms but always in the service of a personal aesthetic, a unified artistic identity. He has chronicled his talents on the solo disc “Twelve Improvisations in Twelve Keys” (2009) as well as the trio sessions “Before the Storm” (2005), “Oxygen” (2007) and “Five Pedals Deep’, his critically acclaimed 2010 Sunnyside release with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Ted Poor. The album “lays out something like a personal manifesto“, says the New York Times. “Tepfer unfurls his lyricism in great silvery arcs, with no allowance for awkwardness”.
Dan Tepfer has also had the extraordinary privilege of a sustained, ongoing duo partnership with alto saxophonist and jazz luminary Lee Konitz. The two documented their rapport on the acclaimed 2009 Sunnyside CD “Duos With Lee" (“a benchmark of human potential” - JazzInsideNY). They have appeared together live at the Village Vanguard and many other leading jazz venues. Whether they’re freely improvising, exploring Dan’s original compositions or applying their interpretive prowess to the Great American Songbook, the Tepfer-Konitz duo achieves stirring results and embodies the notion of jazz as an artistic exchange across the generations. In addition, Dan has had the honor of performing with Steve Lacy, Paul Motian, Bob Brookmeyer, Joe Lovano, Ralph Towner, Mark Turner, Billy Hart and other innovators.
Dan Tepfer has also been named a Cultural Envoy of the U.S. State Department, with recent travels to Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Czech Republic. He has lectured and led master classes at the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Seoul Institute of the Arts (South Korea), the Chopin Conservatory (Warsaw) and many more. He was recently commissioned by the Prague Castle Guard Orchestra to compose a concerto for wind symphony and improvising piano. Titled The View from Orohena, the work premiered in the Prague Castle on May 4, 2010.
On November 8, 2011, Dan Tepfer released a solo album on Sunnyside/Naïve entitled “Goldberg Variations/Variations”. In this new work, he performs J.S. Bach’s original variations as written while adding his own improvised variations in between each, thus generating a dialogue with the old master. A contemporary commentary on a revered masterpiece, the project affirms the timelessness and continuity of musical expression.
In addition to working with his new trio, Dan Tepfer continues to focus on full solo piano concerts of freely improvised music. As France’s Jazz Magazine has noted, he is “gifted with a heightened sense for form and an extraordinary confidence in his angles of attack.” His playing, whatever the context, is a model of fluidity and steady, effortless motion, immersed in jazz history but creating new history in turn.