Sunday, May 10th – 4:30-6:30 pm
Gaea Schell Quartet

Gaea SchellPianist Gaea Schell joined by Jeffrey Burr on guitar, John Wiitala on bass and Tony Johnson on drums.

Gaea, in the judgment of Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath, “plays the heck out of the piano with them small hands.”

Known among her peers for swinging every note, subtle phrasing, and honest lyrical writing, this West Coast-based pianist/composer/vocalist (also flutist) is a native of western Canada where she grew up playing music from an early age. Recorder lessons at age 6 with family friend, the late San Francisco based drummer Eddie Marshall, was one of her first musical ventures. Pursuit of a classical harp degree led to checking out Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans records in the school library, inspiring a move East and subsequent graduation from the jazz program at acclaimed McGill University in Montreal. ┬áThe real learning, however, came from playing on the bandstand with respected elders who spent considerable time themselves playing with greats such as Joe Henderson, Wynton Kelly, Ella Fitzgerald. Gaea feels “it’s so important to listen, experience, and understand the tradition of this music”.

A 1999 Canada Council for the Arts grant took Gaea to New York City where she studied with internationally known pianist/composer Richie Beirach. Gaea (maiden name ‘Brant’) is a cousin of late classical composer Henry Brant (favorite composer Benny Golson a protege of)

Gaea recently made her California debut as a twice featured performer at the San Jose Jazz Festival and has been performing professionally and internationally as a pianist and recently vocalist for many years in diverse contexts. Her experience includes everything from trio to quartet to orchestral performance. Notable artists she has played with as a sideperson include Nancy King, John Stowell, Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath, Clare Fischer Big Band, Tony Dumas, PJ Perry, Marcus Shelby, Bobby Watson, Bob Sheppard, Dan Faehnle (guitarist with Diana Krall), Vince Lateano, John Wiitala, Noel Jewkes, Earl Palmer and Gilbert Castellanos (member of the Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra).