I became a big fan of pianist Sullivan Fortner (33). He is really special, he sounds very fresh and original and, and his solo piano playing is very exciting. To me, Sullivan really stands out from many talented young jazz pianists who play today.
What is special about Sullivan is that he brings his knowledge of the piano history – Blues, Boogie, Stride, Bebop, New Orleans piano and Latin and finds his own way to make it sound really fresh and original. His has a brilliant technique, great full sound and two-handed style of playing in the tradition of old piano masters.
Fortner, who was born and grew up in New Orleans went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music (studied with Fred Hersch & Jason moran). He was the winner of the Cole Porter Fellowship by the American Pianists Association (2015). Fortner’s frequent and longtime collaborators have included Ambrose Akinmusire, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stefon Harris, Kassa Overall, Tivon Pennicott, Peter Bernstein, Nicholas Payton, Billy Hart, Gary Bartz, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Fred Hersch, and the recently departed Roy Hargrove. Read more about Sullivan on his website.
I have written about Sullivan Fortner in my earlier post “Smokin’ at Smoke” on his live Streaming performance as a member of Peter Bernstein Quartet at Smoke Club in NYC. There some interesting music video clips from that show as well. Check it out here.
Sullivan Fortner Live Streaming performance
In today’s reality of pandemic, it became real to get closer to artists and watch them perform remotely. Here is a live performance of Sullivan that was streamed live from his home in Brooklyn on October 1, 2020. This is a part of a music series organized by Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was probably Sullivan’s first live streaming performance in the past months.
Sullivan plays a few of his originals along with Cole Porter songs and more standards. He also sings (!) and answers the questions. There many bright moments here and I am sure you will enjoy it.
Here is a setlist with the timestamp for easier navigation.
1. Minute Waltz (Frederic Chopin/ James Booker)
2. The Weeping Willow (Scott Joplin)
3. Love For Sale (Cole Porter)
4. Aria (Sullivan Fortner)
5. You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To (Cole Porter)
6. Estate (Summer) (Bruno Martino)
7. Someone To Watch Over Me (Gershwin)
8. Last Time I Saw Paris (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II)
9. New Port (Sullivan Fortner)
10. The Trolley Song [from the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis] (Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane)
11. Q &A
12. On A Clear Day (Burton Lane / Alan Jay Lerner) Sullivan Fortner, piano and vocals
13. Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk)
➡️ Visit Sullivan Fortner website at sullivanfortnermusic.com