Ryan Parker, Board Member at Large
Born in Manchester N.H. in 1973, Ryan Parker began to study piano at the age of 12. By the age of 20 his focus was to complete a degree in the music education program at the University Of New Hampshire. “I had always loved music, especially jazz because of its freedom, but it wasn’t until my early 20s that I began to really understand its history. UNH had a big role in that. I had the opportunity to play with the best ever... Clark Terry, Milt Jackson, and Dick Hyman, among others.”
After graduating from UNH in 1996 he worked with some of Boston’s great jazz musicians. As the director of the Celebrity Concert Series at UNH Manchester, Ryan was able to invite the likes of Gray Sargent, John Lockwood, and most especially Herb Pomeroy. “Herb’s legacy in jazz is incomputable. The amount of lives he touched in his educating and in his performances can never be calculated. He showed me what it means to be a jazz musician; how to bring a playfulness to the music and how to push yourself to play things you don’t usually play.”
In 1998 Ryan enrolled in the New England Conservatory Master’s Program for Jazz Studies. There he was able to study with musicians from all over the world, including Michael Cain, Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, and Danilo Perez. “It was an amazing experience at NEC. It was great to be in a place every day where there is so much creativity happening. I’d walk down the hallway and see Ran Blake, George Russell, and Cecil McBee all in the same place.”
In 2000 Ryan graduated from the NEC program and began to play locally in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire and around New England. His first album, The music of Maurice Ravel, was recorded in his living room. “I was just drawn to Ravel’s music. It just seemed to fit my hands and my ears. It was quite a challenge to try and finish some of those takes. I remember “Jeux d’eau,” which is only about a six-minute piece, took me close to six hours to get the right take.” It was not long after that Ryan recorded his first jazz album Deep Oceans, featuring Herb Pomeroy on trumpet. On this recording Ryan featured himself in quartet and duo settings, as well as utilizing the idea of overdubbing three piano tracks on a single cut, a technique introduced to the jazz world by Bill Evans. This recording was instrumental in Ryan’s becoming the youngest recipient of a New Hampshire Council On the Arts Grant in 2002.
Soon thereafter, he joined the Jim Howe Trio at the Press Room in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Sunday nights, Filling the vacant piano bench left by the passing of Seacoast fixture Tommy Gallant. This was a real chance to meet and play with musicians from all over the world, as well as record with the trio with Herb Pomeroy and Harry Allen. Jim Howe’s passing on October 13th, 2007, left a void in the Seacoast.
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