Current and recent news:
a) The Ken Sherman Quartet was back at Adamos Studios in Fountain Valley in Jan., 2015! We recorded 3 great tunes, all with Ken on either C flute or alto flute: "Groovin' High," "Ceora," & "Invitation" - one jazz; & 2 classic Latin. The studio's piano, a white baby grand, is wonderful to play, and I was again grateful for the opportunity. Hopefully, we'll be recording more material there in the near future, ahead of Ken's next CD [see item c) below - same personnel, too].
b) The following praise came my way from great pianst, singer & entertainer Eric Ekstrand, on 4/24/13, regarding my attendance at the memorial celebration of life for Arlette McCoy Budwig, at Colombo's. Eagle Rock on 4/20: "I especially want to thank you for playing that afternoon. Your harmonic conceptions and swing were very impressive. Your performance helped make the afternoon very enjoyable."
c) The Ken Sherman Quartet's new CD, "Directions," is out (mid-2012), & I have copies! It's a wonderful compilation of best-loved standards like Billie's Bounce, Easy to Love, I Should Care, I'll Remember April, Long Ago & Far Away, My Romance, Wave, and more! I'm on Adamos Studios' (Fountain Valley) fabulous baby grand, with a vocal on I Should Care. Leader and gifted flutist/saxist Ken is joined by (besides myself) terrific bassist Frank Schatz & excellent drummer Joel Minamide.
d) There is fun music from James Gentry & The Tequila Sundance Band (pop/R&B cover & Latin jazz sextet) at a May, 2012 gig, on the band's site - www.jgtsb.com - I'm on keyboard, backing vocals, and one lead vocal! Hope you'll check it out. Our gig on Sat., July 14th eve. at the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel was a success. Since then we've gigged at numerous other venues - we did quite a few performances in 2012. Due to time constraints, I'm no longer in the band; but it was fun while it lasted!
e) A nice video clip of the Gary Hogan Trio at the Zinc Cafe' in Laguna Beach, Friday, 5/20/11, is on YouTube - Gary on bass AND trumpet, Shelley Gordon on drums, and myself (sub for their regular pianist) on keyboard with key bass when Gary played trumpet (I switched back & forth)! We were playing the beautiful standard, "Don't Blame Me." Here is the link - please check it out!: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvmMHgfnGuc
...Here's a praiseful line by reviewer/writer Harvey Barkan, January, 2011, from his review of fine saxist/flute player Ted Carmely's "Joy of Jazz" Quintet's feature band performance at the Valley Jazz Club on Jan. 2, 2011. "Other band members were: ...Nina Beck, piano, with very nice vocal on old favorite "Poinciana" that makes me think she should sing more of these American Songbook standards..." Thank you, Harvey!! This review was published in the Jan. 2011 issue of the L.A. Jazz Scene, as well as the Jan. VJC Newsletter.
...And an article from CAMPUS TIMES, official newspaper of the Univ. of La Verne, "Inside Arts, Etc." section, from March 28, 2008:
Musicians Get "Hip" at the Kitty / by Victoria Allende, Staff Writer SEE ARTICLE WITH BANNER & COLOR PHOTOS: Adobe Acrobat PDF File(Photo caption:) The crowd listened to the sounds at the Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue Club in Claremont on March 20. The group composed of Nina Beck and the Andy Cowan trio included bass player Chris Ferrin and Scott Ickes on the drums. They will return to perform at the Hip Kitty on April 1.
(Article:) Andy Cowan and the Nina Beck Trio entertained the crowd at the Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue Club in Claremont on March 20. Taking the stage from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. the band played for the busy café in the downtown area. The diners enjoyed the soothing sounds of the jazz band over drinks and fondue, which kept the audience in good spirits.
This was another successful night for the Hip Kitty as Cowan and the Nina Beck Trio gave a great jazz performance. I think they are really good, Chris Needham said. I think he sounded a lot like Frank Sinatra." Cowans smooth voice and great vibe kept the crowd entertained and relaxed as they enjoyed their meals. The night brought out a full moon and between songs Cowan was in good spirits as he continued to make references to the moon.
The new restaurant is known for their nightly jazz music and great fondue, bringing competition to other popular fondue restaurants. The Hip Kitty takes a different and more exciting approach. Every night a different band performs, keeping the location busy and full of positive energy.
The band played well together and made a great debut. However, not everyone was making their Hip Kitty debut that night. Beck, the pianist, is a familiar face around the café. Nancy Tessier, owner of the Hip Kitty, said that Beck plays there every Tuesday for piano night. It is usually just one person playing, Tessier said. She is good. Beck is so good in fact that Tessier said she takes requests from the crowd and can play almost anything.
Cowan, originally from Philadelphia but now residing in Santa Monica, has been singing at jazz clubs for about 20 years. However, Cowan is not just a jazz singer. He is also a writer who was affected during the writers strike. Cowan has written for popular sitcoms, like Seinfeld, and just got finished writing an article on Barack Obama. He also has made appearances on some older popular television shows. I sang on The Merv Griffin Show, Cowan said.
Cowan spoke about a performance he once did in which he was asked to sing songs that he thought Sinatra would have sung if he were to be a star during a different musical era. The comparisons of Cowan to Sinatra have been carried throughout the years giving Cowan a priceless compliment to his performances.
Yet, Cowan does more than deliver a great sound. He also writes and arranges his own music. While Cowan has made many great lifetime accomplishments, he still comes back to the jazz clubs. This was his first time playing at the Hip Kitty but he had heard good things about it from his friend, Beck. And Cowan had a great time performing there. This is a great place. Cowan said. Its very reciprocal. They give you energy and you give them energy back.
The Hip Kitty features different bands nearly every night! Visit Hip Kitty's web site with menu, calendar, etc., at www.hipkittyjazz.com.
Allende can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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TESTIMONIALS & REVIEWS:
(Re: Sat., 7/3/10 gig with Andy Cowan) "Nina - Great performance yesterday and great repertoire of songs. We were looking for the bass player and then realized you were playing the bass line on the keyboard. Bravo! Enjoyed the day and hope to hear you again soon." -Joanie Jay, fine singer/entertainer, performing for many years in L.A. & surrounding areas, and holds jazz parties in her home w/ notables Llew Matthews, Bruce Lett, etc. (Compliment received in July, 2010)
"You're such a great talent and people need to know about you. I always get comments about your playing, singing and flute playing." -Llew Matthews, renowned pianist, and famed singer Nancy Wilson's pianist for many years. (Compliment received in April, 2010)
"You guys were great. Your selections and style fit my taste perfectly." -Jerry, husband of client who hired my "All Key'd Up" quartet for her 60th birthday party. (Compliment received in Nov., '08)
"I like the way you play." -Dini Clark, legendary pianist/vocalist/ composer and mentor to some of the greatest vocalists from the 70's and on up to today. (Compliment, and gig offer, which unfortunately I had to turn down as I was unavailable, received in July, '08)
"Your playing makes me think of bubbles being blown and then floating through space - so pretty, light and airy. ...Thanks for... being so gracious with your talent. You're the best!" -Steve Sadd, noted jazz/blues/rock saxist, bassist, vocalist, bandleader, and a busy side man. (Compliment received in May, '07, at a jam session)
"I listened to our gig at Chris Walden's home the other day. You sounded really good, Nina. Regarding the (musical) 'shapes,' you're 'shapes'-ing up! On another note, your playing between our songs really added continuity." (About a June, '07 gig) -Andy Cowan, award-winning writer/producer/host and veteran of Seinfeld, Third Rock from the Sun, and the Merv Griffin Show as well as professional singer and entertainer (20+ years). A regular contributing writer to the L.A. Times and the Philadelphia Enquirer and steady collaborator with the Times' "Bizarro" series cartoonist, Andy is also a songwriter. He landed a finalist spot in the 2007 Unisong International Contest for his catchy country tune with a traditional feel, "Hitchin' on the Highway of Life"; the song will be featured during ending credits of an upcoming movie.
"Nina, your music was excellent at my birthday party fundraiser on October 5. I saw someone last evening at an event in Long Beach and the person mentioned the music and how much they enjoyed it. Thanks so much. You may use my name anytime as someone who likes your style." -Betty Karnette, California political figure (about my "All Key'd Up" duo with Tony Presti, drums; Oct., '06).
"Nina and I have worked together and I can tell you that the girl is really talented. She's an accomplished pianist, fine singer, and even plays a 'mean' flute. Catch her next Thursday at Bistro 400!" -Tom Margitan, noted saxist/flutist/vocalist whose many credits include Jack Jones, Anne Richards, Stan Kenton, Grover Washington, Jr., and many noted L.A.-based musicians: Llew Matthews, Mark Massey, Luther Hughes, Kendall Kay, Roy McCurdy, the late Andy Simpkins, etc. Tom has toured the U.S., Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, and the Far East. (Compliments received in July, '06 - included in his e-mail about one of his upcoming Bistro 400 performances)
(Note - please do not regard the following as a racial slur) "Nina Beck, Nina Beck - the ONLY white musician I know who can play with black people!!!..." -Cabrini Schneider, owner/founder of Cabrini's Jazz Alley, noted jazz club (alas, it closed in early 2006), frequented by such prominent artists as vocalist Sandra Booker, saxophonist Dale Fielder, guitarist Jacques Lesure, pianist Tateng Katindig, bassist Ryan Cross, & drummer Thomas White. (Compliment received Jan., '06 - she told me, "Put it in your website!", so I did)
"With so much jazz mistaking excess for invention and hyper-activity for dynamism, Nina Beck and her groups display genuine heart with no bells and whistles. Nina is a pianist/singer worthy of much more attention." -Roger Crane, Jazz writer for such publications as Jazz Improv, All About Jazz, & LA Jazz Scene (received Oct. 11, '05).
"You're a very good player, and you really know how to swing. I can't say that about every pianist; but you can definitely swing." -Marty Harris, veteran pianist and recording artist who was Anita O'Day's pianist and worked with Diana Ross and countless other notables. (Compliment received in Jan., '05)
"Nina Beck is a polished jazz pianist with absolute pitch. She's a solid performer who knows all the tunes and plays them superbly." -John Gilbert, aka "Johnny Jazz," a Staff Writer for Sony/ Columbia Records, Euro Club De Jazz, All About Jazz, & JazzReview.com Magazine for many years. Visit California Coast Jazz At: http://community-2.webtv.net/johnnyjazz/johnnyjazzsjazzpage. Also a former professional jazz drummer, John knows all the local jazz goings-on & is a well-qualified jazz critic. (Compliment received in Jan., '05)
"...Tell them (numerous pro vocalists who headline in L.A.'s major jazz venues) I thought you would dig getting together...see what they say! Good luck, you're playing great!" -Cathy Segal-Garcia, noted jazz vocalist, recording artist, composer, educator, and organizer of countless regular vocal workshops and special musical events. Dedicated to furthering her craft and especially, the talents of others, Cathy's professional career has taken her all over the world, to sing with many of the world's all-time jazz greats including Kei Akagi, David Benoit, Shelly Berg, Billy Childs, Peter Erskine, Marc Johnson, Diana Krall, Don Menza, Sam Most, John Pisano, etc. Cathy wrote Visit Cathy at www.cathysegalgarcia.com. (Compliment received in Jan., '05)
"Nina...I was very happy with your performance and feel we got more than what I expected. I think you did a great job...your music was great...and very well done." -CathyLyn Rossi, re: an "All Key'd Up" trio performance for her 20th high school reunion at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach. (Compliment received in Nov., '04)
It's nice to hear another talented female pianist. There are not that many of them out there, but you are one of them!...I really like your playing." -Jimmy Spencer, jazz and blues vocalist/performer extraordinaire, has been a regular at The Smokehouse, Charlie O's, Spazio, Barone's, etc. He appears in Salt Lake City and other locales backed by the Karen Hernandez Trio featuring Jack LeCompte and Lou Shoch, and has many other notable credits. I subbed for Karen in 2005 on a duo gig with Jimmy at Colombo's in Eagle Rock, and on a few other occasions. (Compliment received in Sept., '04)
"Many thanks for all you and your group did to help make our anniversary party perfect...If anyone ever asks about a band I would highly recommend you." -Jan Hyman, re: an "All Key'd Up" quartet performance in Aug., '04 for her and her husband Ed's 50th wedding anniversary/renewal of vows celebration at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Compliment received in Aug., '04)
SHORT BIO: (Pared way down, finally. The long one is now at the bottom of the page - it's about time!)
Professional pianist and vocalist NINA BECK has played piano since the age of five. She attended the HS of Music & Art in New York City, and studied with the famed late John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet at City College of New York (CCNY) where she got her Bachelor of Arts in Music, Magna Cum Laude, in 1978. Nina has performed American Songbook standards, jazz favorites, and popular "oldies" from the '50's through '80's around L.A. for over 29 years on piano and vocals, both solo and with bands of all sizes (her own "All Key'd Up" groups; Andy Cowan & The Nina Beck Trio; the Ken Sherman Quartet; etc.), in many settings - major jazz venues; hotels and restaurants; civic and commercial locales; tourist sites; and private homes. She has studied with numerous world-renowned pianists including Don Friedman, Milcho Leviev, Terry Trotter (Natalie Cole's long-standing pianist and music director), and Paul Smith (Ella Fitzerald's pianist and music director for 2 decades). At the Songwriters Guild of America office in Hollywood, Nina took private songwriting lessons with the famed late Jack Segal, composer of the beloved song "When Sunny Gets Blue" and other pretty ballads; she also took classes with renowned country writer & artist Phil Swann. She is a published songwriter, and performs original songs on some of her gigs.
Nina's credits include jazz and blues legendary vocalist Ernie Andrews (with the Dennis Kaye Band at Pasadena City College in '04), as well as such prominent artists as:
- Vocalists Ginger Berglund (starting in '07 and to present), Frances Coche' ('07), Andy Cowan (steadily, '03 to present), Gene Diamond (Spazio, '05), Evie Fiorani ('09, '10), Maria Jacobs and Tera Johnson (Money Tree, '05 and '06), Michelle Jaeger-Jones ('09 to present), Lauren Koval ('09), Joy Rushing ('06), Cathy Segal-Garcia (Jan. '05), Jimmy Spencer ('05), Jessica Taylor ('05), Perlene Thurston ('07), and Kym Foley (starting in '09). All these vocalists have stellar credentials - e.g., Ginger performs in major venues and records with acclaimed trombonist/ arranger/ singer/ bandleader Scott Whitfield; Andy's bio was presented above; Cathy, Evie, Maria, Jessica (who's with The Platters), Joy, Perlene, Kym, Gene Diamond, and Jimmy Spencer are all prominent artists.
- Guitarists Jerry Case, Joe Gaeta, George Gilliam, Doug MacDonald, Jacques Lesure, and Edwing (in my efforts to pare down this page, references to their credits and achievements, and those of the musicians that follow, were removed; many have web sites);
- Saxophonists/woodwind players Albert Alva, Steve Carr, Carol Chaikin, the late Pat Chartrand, Bob Efford, Kurt Festinger, Dale Fielder, Dave Goldberg, Wyatt Haupt, Jacob Johnston, Tom Margitan, Rory Mazzela, Jonah Minton, Matt Otto, Mike Parlett, Jim Richardson, Kim Richmond, Dean Roubicek, John Setar, Ken Sherman, Mel Steinberg, Edmund Velasco, CeCe Worrall-Rubin, Mark Yacoubian, and the late Harold Bennett and Bernie Jones;
- Trumpeters Hershey Bell, Jack Coan, Jack Feierman, John Fick, Tony Guerrero, (Dr.) Woody James, Ashland Porter (young phenom out of New Orleans), Barry Trop (aka Barry Anthony), Andrew Carney, and the late Ken Goldshine and Micky McMahon;
- Trombonists Les Benedict, (Dr.) Mike Julian, of Valley College; Roger McCoy (also a fine trumpeter & singer); David Stout; Roy Wiegand; Hal Willis; and in particular, noted trombonist/ arranger/ bandleader/ composer/ singer/ recording artist Scott Whitfield - 10/07 and many times since, w/ Tracy Wells' Big Swing Band incl. New Year's Eve 2008;
- Bassists Leslie Baker, Jim Bates, John Belzaguy, Jack Brown, Barry Cogert, Tim Emmons, Mike Flick, Henry 'The Skipper' Franklin, Paul Gormley, John Hatton, Donnell Lambert, Sherry Luchette, Bill Markus, Peter Marshall, Lester McFarland, Herb Mickman, Ernie Nunez, Frank Schatz, Lou Shoch, Richard Simon, Louis Spears, Geo Valle, Bill Von Ravensberg, John B. Williams, Wendell Williams, and the late Ira Westley;
- Drummers Keita Akutsu, Joe Barile, Don Allen, Mike Clark, Joe Correro, Donald Dean, Frank De Vito, Paul "Chico" Fernandez, Stephen Foster, Denise Fraser, George Green, Don Hooker, Clarence Johnston, Douglas Klug, Dean Koba, Phil "Ed"La Fata, Denis LaPron, Jack LeCompte, Frank Marsico, Maria Martinez, Burr Middleton, Joel Minamide, Billy Paul, Michael Rosen, Evan Stone, Paul Tavenner, Johnny Vana, Bobby White, and the late Tim Hafer, Scott Ickes, and Ralph Penland.
Also, Nina has subbed for &/or traded gigs with: Terry Cano, Alexandra Caselli, Fred Dean, Eric Ekstrand, Michelle Faber, the late Marty Harris, Lloyd Hebert, Karen Hernandez, Tom Owens, Joe Partise, Leslie Sharp, Richard Sherman, Dick Tash, and Urie Norris. Her flute playing has included sitting in with name artists Ray Pizzi, Jamie Findlay, Mark Massey, and Libbie Jo Snyder over the past 15 years, and she plays a flute number on some Sundays eves. at her Casey's Tavern gig.
Last but not least!: Nina performed with Buddy Ebsen, the casting director's original Wizard of Oz "Tin Man" choice," circa 1989 at Long Beach Yacht Club (this was during her first 2-year stint there).
(Some extra, semi-related info...please skip down to the bottom to get to contact info)
"...Nearly 900 songs from memory in any key!" - Nina specializes in Great American Songbook standards and show tunes, but also plays straight-ahead jazz, Dixieland, Latin and other ethnic music, popular country, rock 'n' roll, R&B, and easy listening including soft rock/pop, movie and TV themes. She provides piano accompaniment for other working singers, including proficient sight-reading and transposing. Nina is a member of Professional Musicians Local 47 (affil. Aug. '03). In recent years, Nina's piano playing and singing style have been likened to world-renowned artists Diana Krall, Kenny Barron, & Marian MacPartland. Influences include Sonny Clark, Bill Evans, Hank Jones, Gene Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Hampton Hawes, Wynton Kelly, and Andre Previn. Other favorites, in the crop of younger piano virtuosi, are Tamir Hendelman and Gerald Clayton (the latter accompanied Nina on a song at a vocal workshop at noted vocalist Cathy Segal-Garcia's home, led by jazz & world music vocalist "phenom" Gretchen Parlato in Aug. '05).
A published songwriter and BMI affiliate, Nina has a catalog of well-crafted original songs: adult contemporary, country, blues, swing, jazz, retro Latin, R&B (ballads), and movie themes. Several were arranged for big band and performed. Her first published song, the crossover ballad "No One Touches Me Like You Do," was released in July '98 by country artist Dainel of Michigan, on her debut CD, "No Doubt About It." It was released the following year in Austria on a compilation CD. Another, a country rock song signed by the same publisher, Betty Jane Music Publishing Co. (BMI) and entitled "Loving Me Up While You're Letting Me Down," was released in July '03 by the same artist, Dainel Jackson, on her 2nd CD, "Better Things Than You," on the C.E.R. Country Records label. Nina's first published song, as above, was re-released on this CD. Her increased credibility led to collaborations with 2 other BMI publishers, Miles Grayson of Miles Ahead Publishing, and Bert Swanson of Music in the Right Keys Publishing, on their original material and her own lyrics and music. Two country songs co-written with Bert Swanson and demo'd in late '03 were pitched to Nashville artists and submitted to "Song Domain" song pitching service in Arizona, which selected one for its "Songbank" honor. Time constraints restricted the level of demo-ing and marketing efforts that could be made, however.
In December '03, Nina received a Certificate of Achievement - top 10% of 4500 entries worldwide - for her country lyric entry "Driver's Seat," from the Unisong International Contest. The lyric has music, and demo-ing is planned; other songs are always in work. A collaboration in late '04 with noted pianist and composer Ben Di Tosti yielded a lively tune that was being honed for demo'in and pitching to country artists, but the collaboration didn't work out (oh, well). Nina submitted 25 new entries to the 2004 Unisong International Contest, and 2 entries, a jingle theme and a country ballad "spin song," were semi-finalists.
A 16-yr. collaboration with Joe Barile, noted drummer/ singer/ guitarist/ composer, has yielded 15 unique jazz and/or adult contemporary songs as of 2015. Music for all is by Joe Barile; lyrics by Nina. Demos of 5 were finished in 2007, with the addition of a bass track on one tune by a prominent performing pro and jingle writer, Warren Giancaterino. The hope is to pitch these to individual artists, producers, record companies as time permits. At one point, the song "Divine Love" was on 4 internet radio stations' playlists (stations are affiliated with IAC Music online). In Aug. '08, Nina & Joe recorded vocals on 6 of 7 new songs, over instrumental tracks they recorded in Spring '08. After some flute and organ solo tracks are laid down and mixes done...who knows? In any event, some tunes are perfect for playing on swing music gigs.
Nina's plans for making her own full-length CD with 6 covers and 9 originals, one of which was collaborated on by Miles Grayson, continue. She is "whittling away" at charts/arrangements - most of them are done as of early 2015. Although Nina can write quick chord charts from "head to paper," one remaining chart, which will have a special arrangement, will require extra time.
From April '05 to June '06, Nina was pianist and backup singer in an all-girl 7-piece Dixieland act formed in '05, the "Belles of Bourbon Street" (Kati Roberts, leader/singer/banjo player). Nina's husband came up with the band's name but didn't actually take credit. Nina wrote a fun song for the band, "Just Desserts," debuted in 2006 with Kati on lead vocals. It was subsequently performed regularly. The Belles had a monthly Friday evening gig at Mr. B in Burbank through '06 that Nina facilitated; after that run ended, they continued to do various gigs. In March '06, thanks again to Nina's initial efforts, they were featured band at a renowned Valley Jazz Club (Canoga Park) monthly music event. Due to some differences, & time constraints, Nina and the Belles parted ways in June, '06 and they got a new pianist; the last gig she did as a member was on 5/28/06 at Rico Coffee, La Verne (which unfortunately closed in 2008). In early '07, Nina got a few Belles members together for a reunion, as featured band at the Channel Cities Jazz Club.
To contact Nina: (310) 698-2325 or email@example.com. She can assemble a great combo for your event - or provide solo piano, or piano & vocal, entertainment. Nina prefers to give you a rate quote on a very individual basis, since there are always numerous factors to consider. Prices will always be competitive, and based on individual budget!...
...A full song list can be mailed or e-mailed to you, from which you can select tunes you'd like played from Nina's nearly-900 song repertoire. Besides swing & classic Latin, show tunes, & some ethnic selections, about 15% of tunes on her list are classic old-school pop & rock hits & movie themes from the 1950's-'90's. Only the most recent 2 decades are absent - the "newest" tune might be "My Heart Will Go On" from the blockbuster movie "Titanic." But if you have a special song not on Nina's list, and you can provide sheet music for it, she'll learn it and play it for your event. This might include a first dance song, etc.
Thank you, & I hope to hear from you! - please visit my Schedule page also, because it would be great to see you at a future gig. (:->)