Yesterday’s students become tomorrow’s stars quickly these days, and this trio is on the fast track. Hear this multiple Dakota Foundation Jazz Piano Competition Winner with former high school colleagues bassist Chris Smith (taking time off from touring with Jeff “Tain” Watts) and drummer Miguel Hurtado.
Javier Santiago (Minneapolis South High Class of 2007) comes by his musical bent honestly, the son of drummer Mac Santiago and grandson of Latin percussion master, Luis Santiago; his mom Lori is a vocalist. Javier began studying piano at age 7, turning to jazz piano and trumpet at age 10 and playing with the bands at the Ramsey Fine Arts Middle School program in south Minneapolis before moving on to the jazz program at South High. With a group called “Second Nature,” he recorded his first CD in 2004. He was also a member of the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band and the first edition of the Dakota Combo under the direction of Kelly Rossum, and played with the teen bands The Eggz and The Bridge. In 2006, Javier was awarded the Jane Matteson Award at the Schubert Club/Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Jazz Piano Competition; the following year he won the David Paulus Scholarship at the same competition. A former student of local pianists Laura Caviani and Tanner Taylor, Javier cites Herbie Hancock, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Geoffrey Keezer, and Miles Davis as his biggest influences.
In fall 2007, Javier was selected to participate in the Brubeck Institute Fellowship program affiliated with the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. As the Brubeck pianist for two years, Javier toured in Europe and the U.S., then moving on to the jazz program at the New School in Manhattan where he is in his final year of study. Javier notes the advantage of being “surrounded by so many artists in such a densely populated place… immersed in what is basically the Mecca of jazz music.” Javier has performed at the Artists Quarter, Dakota, Jazz Central and other venues, as well as at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival with student band Neoterik and at the Detroit Jazz Festival with the Brubeck Quartet. -Andrea Canter, Jazz Police