Salt on the keys

All it took was one class for jazz pianist Danny Green

Jazz pianist Danny Green likes to play with string quartets
  • Jazz pianist Danny Green likes to play with string quartets
  • Image by Sasha Israel

San Diego native Danny Green studied classical piano as a child, but flipped over to jazz, built up a base of local fans, and earlier this year released One Day It Will, mating his jazz trio to a classical string quartet. He took some questions over email.

How did you settle on a musical career?

“I went into UCSD as a chemistry major with the idea that music is a great hobby, but not a career. I took one music class from Jason Stanyek on African Music, and that inspired me to further pursue my music education.”

Who are the other players in your trio?

“The trio features bassist Justin Grinnell, who hails from Santa Rosa, and [San Diego drummer] Julien Cantelm.... [Both] are both masters of their instruments and they have the ability to be supportive and interactive at the same time. They put a lot of thought into the music and come up with all sorts of cool grooves.”

Who are the string quartet players for your new record and how did you find them?

“The new album features San Diego Symphony violinists Kate Hatmaker, and Igor Pandurski, along with [San Diegans] violist Travis Maril, and cellist Erica Erenyi. I met Erica years ago through guitarist Dusty Brough, and I met Kate at Coronado School of the Arts. We both taught there. Kate introduced me to Travis and Igor.”

Have you performed live with the string quartet?

“I have had a number of live performances with various string quartets. Each one of those shows was an absolute blast — especially TEDx San Diego at Copley Symphony Hall!”

What are your favorite places to play in SD?

Danny Green Trio Plus Strings at Museum of Making Music

"Time Lapse To Fall" August 19, 2017

"Time Lapse To Fall" August 19, 2017

“Some of my most memorable concerts have been at KSDS Jazz 88.3’s Jazz Live, and the Museum of Making Music. To me, the three main ingredients for a great experience at a venue are the host(s), the sound, and most importantly the crowd.”

Strangest gig story?

“I suppose my strangest gig was on a harbor cruise. The ship had the worst electric grand piano I have ever played. It would only play one note at a time and it was tuned half a step up. It was a nightmare for me to play a C and hear a D-flat. The damper pedal didn’t work, and the soft pedal triggered a bossa nova drum beat. The keys were covered in salt. A rather drunk woman sat next to me and told me she could play. She set her drink inside the piano, and within seconds, the drink spilled right into the keyboard. The keyboard immediately fried. I got to sit and hang out for the rest of the night.”

Danny Green appears at La Valencia Hotel on Wednesday, June 20, with upcoming gigs also set for Old Town Temecula Community Theater (July 19) and California Center for the Arts, Escondido (August 24).

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