Chris Ziemba

Pianist, Composer, Educator

The release of Who Knows?

It's been four years (!!!) since it was recorded, but I am very pleased to announce the release of a duo-piano collaboration with a long-time mentor and friend, Paul Hofmann. When I was in high school in a suburb of Buffalo, I used to make weekly trips to Rochester to study with Paul through the Eastman Community Music School. (Check this out if you live in or near Rochester; YOU can study with Paul too!!!) I enrolled in his composition classes, and also took hour-long jazz piano lessons. These lessons were INVALUABLE to me at that time. We spent time playing duo from the very get-go, supplemented by time spent composing in inventive ways, transcribing solos and tunes, and a listening to stuff! LOTS of listening. To this day, I credit Paul with exposing me to a plethora of artists that I might not otherwise have taken upon myself to dig into. And not just jazz, either...I have a big affinity for the 60's British rock group Cream (Clapton's claim to fame) which is entirely because of Paul. He would teach me what to listen for in everything. Every time I saw Paul, too, he'd have copies of a few new tunes that he'd just transcribed so that I could play them too.

I continued to study with Paul throughout my entire time enrolled at Eastman, too. What started off as hour-long lessons eventually evolved into hangs of three or more hours. We'd get together and continue to listen, watch DVDs, write, and most importantly, play. After a decade of duo playing, something had to happen! When the time came for me to sadly announce that I was leaving Western New York for the harsh climes of NYC, Paul and I decided we had to document this musical relationship. And so, the summer after I completed my Master's at Eastman (2011), Paul and I went on a road trip to Soundtrek Studios in Kansas City, MO. We spent two days in the studio, and ultimately, Who Knows? was recorded.

The album is actually three discs, and has been released on MHR Records. We wanted to pay our respects to the multitude of famous pianist-composers in our history by finding lesser-known compositions and putting our own duo spin on them. Due to obvious limitations we were unable to include everybody that we would have liked...there was no way to even come up with a definitive list of all these legends! There's a nice breadth of styles represented on the album, and it's even balanced with some free improvisation and a some original compositions by both Paul and me. I remember having one heck of a blast in the studio...the pianos were each beautiful, and they recorded differently enough so that a careful listener could determine which piano was playing which part. But I have to admit...after letting the final mastered takes sit for some time, after returning to them I had a hard time telling the two of us apart! After all that time, we had really learned how to play together. There's definitely enough of each of our individual voices to tell us apart, but that's part of the fun for you, the listener!

Click here to order your own copy! I sincerely hope you enjoy!!