The winner of the 2011 Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition, pianist, composer, and arranger Christopher Ziemba is receiving widespread critical acclaim. After years of classical instruction in his hometown outside Buffalo, New York, Chris realized his love for jazz music in high school, taking weekly trips to Rochester to learn from pianist Paul Hofmann. Chris began studies under the tutelage of Harold Danko at the Eastman School of Music, from which he earned Bachelor’s degrees in both Jazz Studies and Music Education, as well as a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies. During his time here, he performed frequently with members of the faculty, including Bob Sneider, Clay Jenkins, Walt Weiskopf, Jeff Campbell and Rich Thompson. In 2009, Chris debuted as a guest artist on Marian McPartland’s famed radio broadcast, Piano Jazz. He also participated in two professional training workshops presented in conjunction with the Weill Institute at Carnegie Hall: the 2008 Young Artists Workshop with Fred Hersch and the 2011 Advancing Jazz Improvisation Master Classes with Brad Mehldau.
Shortly after completing his degrees at Eastman, Chris relocated to New York City to begin studies in the two-year Artist Diploma program in Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School. Here, he was mentored by pianist Frank Kimbrough, and also worked extensively with other leading figures in the jazz scene, among them Carl Allen, Kenny Barron, Steve Wilson, and Rodney Jones. As a member of the Artist Diploma Ensemble, he participated in many performance and educational outreach tours, both nationally and internationally, allowing him to further hone his craft across the spectrum of playing and teaching. In September 2011, the Artist Diploma Ensemble recorded and performed with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, in 2012 performed with Brazilian pianist Paolo Braga and drummer Edu Ribeiro, and in 2013 took second place in the Keep an Eye international jazz competition in Amsterdam.
Currently, Chris is involved in a number of projects in both the performing and teaching fields. Since 2012, he has served as accompanist for vocalist Kurt Elling’s New York City master classes and lessons. In 2013, he was featured on Jazz at Lincoln Center saxophonist Ted Nash’s release, Chakra, alongside many other leading musicians in the jazz scene. Early the following year, he performed with Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project at the 2014 Elmhurst Jazz Festival in Illinois. As a teaching artist with the New York Jazz Symposium, founded by drummer Carl Allen, Chris has been able to give back to students at jazz intensives in Melbourne, Australia and San Jose, CA. He is also a teaching artist with the Institute for Creative Music, an organization co-founded by former classmates and collaborators Nick Finzer and Chris Teal, which specializes in presenting clinics and residencies on jazz and improvised music across the US. He also holds a teaching position at York College of the City University of New York. Chris plans to head into the studio to record his debut album as a leader in 2015. In the meantime, he is continuing to perform, compose, and teach across the country, all the while finding constant inspiration in the music’s rich history and working to distill his experiences into a unique modern voice.