CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 16, 2014 – Acclaimed jazz pianist Peter Nero will perform “For Art’s Sake: A Salute to Art Tatum” with Southeast’s jazz musicians in a tribute to jazz legend Art Tatum at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.
Nero will speak about Tatum’s childhood, family life, influences, contact with other musicians, his life and training, accompanied with fantastic renditions of “Over the Rainbow,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and many other Nero favorites.
Bassist Michael Barnett will join Nero in the salute to Tatum. Barnett has been Nero’s principal bassist for more than 18 years. The program will conclude with Peter sitting-in on a few numbers by the Southeast’s Studio Jazz Band.
Bob Cerchio, the River Campus assistant director, is particularly excited about the opportunity this presents to the University’s young jazz musicians. “When I was a kid,” says Cerchio, “I was fortunate that my high school music curriculum offered three full years of music theory. We studied not only music performance, but music history — and Peter Nero was already a legend. Imagine the fantastic experience our Southeast jazz students will have, getting to learn from a true legend. And our audience will be there to witness it.”
Interestingly, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of Nero’s recording career, which eventually produced 67 recordings. In 1960, he was signed to a three-year contract with RCA victor records, which was then renewed for another five years. The following year, he was honored with his first Grammy Award as “Best New Artist of the Year.”
In 2013, pianist and conductor Nero received lifetime achievement awards from the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and the Philadelphia Musicians’ Union Local 77, AFM. He also received the Mario Lanza Award, in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of music, in 2009.
Among his achievements is being the founding music director of the world renowned Peter Nero and the Philly Pops.
As a Steinway artist for almost 50 years, Nero returned to New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2003 to perform at a gala celebrating the 150th anniversary of Steinway with many noted pianists, including Dr. Billy Taylor, Herbie Hancock and Michael Legend.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Nero began his formal music training at the age of seven. By the time he was 14, he was accepted to New York City’s prestigious High School of Music and Art and won a scholarship to the Julliard School of Music.
Among his honors are six honorary doctorates and the prestigious International Society of Performing Arts Presenters Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Nero is an active supporter of many causes, including the funding of school music programs, fund raising for the building of new arts centers across the country as well as research for cancer, dystonia and autism.
When not touring the world, he makes his home in the Philadephia, Pa., area. He has two children, Beverly, a successful film producer residing with her husband in California, and Jedd, a commercial real estate entrepreneur residing with his wife near New York City. Both children have made him a grandfather.
Barnett began studying double bass with his father, a fine musician and teacher during his high school years. Soon, he was performing professionally in clubs in the Joplin, Mo., area. After attending Yale University, he was based for several years in Kansas City, Mo., where he worked with and learned from many of the great players from the classic era of Kansas City Jazz. Barnett was a member of the house orchestra at the Lake Geneva, Wis., Playboy Resort Hotel for nearly 20 years accompanying most of the great names in jazz and pop music. He has been invited to jazz festivals throughout the United States and Canada, performing with a long roster of notable musicians. Barnett toured extensively with the late Pearl Bailey and Louie Bellson.
Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265, or online at RiverCampusEvents.com.