jazz & blues music blog with news, reviews, concerts & more, with a Canadian focus

August 5, 2005

Jazz Pianist and Educator Charlie Austin

Written by
cindy mcleod

Charlie Austin is a fine pianist and one I would walk miles to work with, for he’s a great vocal accompanist as well as a great instrumentalist. Not to mention the world�s most humble man, he is shy to speak of his impressive credits and talent. On more than one occasion he’s told me of attending gigs so he could learn from other players, a sign of a great musician who never stops learning their art.

Charlie Austin
Charlie Austin

Highly valued as an educator, Charlie’s just ‘retired’ after nearly three decades of teaching at Grant McEwan College, nurturing and guiding hundreds of students in the fundamentals of jazz piano, many who have become great musicians in their own right. Many players cite Charlie as a major influence, including recording artist Brian Buchanan, who still talks about how he incorporates all the valuable lessons he took with Charlie many years ago.

Charlie is a great contributor to the scene, if he is not on the bandstand, you will often find him in the audience with his lovely wife Geraldine, cheering on the performances of both amateur and professional musicians. Last year he and Geraldine drove from Edmonton to Calgary to attend my CD release for Conversation With Love.” If that’s not encouragement I don’t know what is! In fact, I remember I first met Charlie when he lent me his p.a. for my first CD release back in ’95, and then came every night to the club I was performing to show his support. Such are the graces of Mr. Austin.

Charlie is a most accomplished musician, his playing is at once strong and deeply sensitive, he has a beautiful sense of time, and his influences speak to me of Bill Evans and George Shearing, with a little Fats Waller tossed in. He is equally at home ‘stepping out’, developing modal concepts and painting an aural depth that describes space and sound in an ethereal manner. He is a harmonic genius, and in fact has written and published two books on the the art of playing jazz piano, ‘An Approach to Jazz Piano’, and ‘Contemporary Piano Studies’, both highly regarded as fundamentals for students (and professionals!) of jazz.

Now that Charlie has more time on his hands, we all look forward to hearing more of him on the bandstand (and hopefully a Charlie Austin recording or two!), and hope he’ll be doing more traveling to spread the gospel of jazz across the nation. He is often heard at Edmonton’s Yardbird Suite, where I had the glorious opportunity to appear with him a couple of years ago in concert. Whether as a solo pianist, ensemble player, or vocal accompanist, one cannot find musicians of Charlie’s caliber very often, his voice is that of pure gold!

Thank you, Charlie, for all you do for us, I hope you know how very much we all appreciate your beautiful gift of music and heart! www.charlieaustinjazz.com

One comment for this post.

  1. Comment from Mer on August 8th, 2005 :

    Great article! Your writing is inspiring!

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