Suzanne Pittson
Emerge Dancing

Suzanne Pittson is an accomplished jazz vocalist, pianist and lyricist living in New York. She grew up in a musical family and began piano studies at age 8. She subsequently earned a Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts in Music (as a classical pianist) from San Francisco State University, before turning her attention to jazz voice. Suzanne has been recognized for her musicianship and improvisational skills, called by All About Jazz ”more than just a singer, but a jazz musician. With a fluid phrasing and stunning tone, she uses her voice as another instrument, improvising and playing with the melodies.” Jazz Inside New York says: “Some controversy exists over just what makes a jazz vocalist. Listen to Suzanne Pittson and you’ll know.”

Suzanne considers herself an improvising musician, however her phrasing and style have developed from very diverse musical influences including jazz, classical, pop, R&B and rock. She grew up in a family of artists and musicians, hearing jazz in her home while also focusing on classical piano studies and immersing herself in the popular music of the time. Choosing to pursue training as a classical pianist, she completed a BM and MA at San Francisco State University, where she played repertoire for solo piano, two pianos and chamber ensemble, and wrote a master’s thesis entitled “Developmental Techniques in the Late Piano Pieces of Johannes Brahms.” This training created a structure for her overall artistic development; however, when a hand injury forced her to seek other means of musical expression, she embarked on a career as a jazz vocalist. With years of piano study under her belt, she moved toward intensive study of the jazz instrumental language, transcribing and assimilating solos by great jazz instrumentalists and working to hone her style. In a personal conversation with the great jazz educator, David Baker, he said: “You’ve set a huge mountain for yourself, so you’re going to have to keep going.”

While continuing to perform and develop her craft as a jazz artist, Suzanne also did regular pop music performances as a solo singer/pianist as well as with a band. She also studied classical voice for ten years, presenting recitals of such diverse repertoire as Schubert and Schumann lieder, Handel arias and “The Ten Poems of Emily Dickinson” by Aaron Copland.

These diverse elements have over the years merged into a unified and authentic musical concept, enabling Suzanne to freely move from simple melodies to complex phrasing, to burning scat solos, to such difficult jazz compositions as “Blues and the Abstract Truth” and “A Love Supreme.”

Suzanne has released three critically-acclaimed CDs: Blues and the Abstract Truth, Resolution: A Remembrance of John Coltrane and Out of the Hub: The Music of Freddie Hubbard where she also contributed original lyrics and vocaleses. She has performed in the United States, Japan, and Europe at such major venues as Yoshi’s, Birdland, Catalina’s, Town Hall, Symphony Space, Aaron Davis Hall, Cornelia Street Cafe, Enzo’s Jazz, and has performed and/or recorded with John Patitucci, Buster Williams, Dave Liebman, Steve Wilson, Mike Clark, Jeremy Pelt, Shunzo Ohno, Mark Soskin, Jack Walrath, Chip Jackson, Harvie S, & more.

Suzanne’s most recent recording is a duo with her husband, pianist Jeff Pittson and featuring their son, violist Evan Pittson. The recording, which will be released in 2024, is a mixture of standards, jazz and pop tunes and showcases the duos longtime partnership and musical dialogue.

In 2005, Suzanne was hired as Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at the City College of New York, where together with her colleagues, she has helped to build a world-class jazz program that focuses on musicianship, performance, composition and arranging, while fostering a feeling of friendship, cooperation, and inclusion. Through the unified efforts of the faculty, CCNY Jazz has become a respected part of the Harlem community forming partnerships with the National Jazz Museum of Harlem, Friends of St. Nicholas Park and Jazzmobile and producing a high percentage of graduates who go on to have professional careers in music. She is currently the Associate Director of the CCNY Jazz Studies Program.

Suzanne co-leads a band called Future Tense where she sings and plays keyboard along with Jeff Pittson on piano/keyboards and Evan Pittson on viola. They are joined by Bryan Copeland on bass and Dave Meade on drums. Future Tense plays predominantly original material.

Suzanne studied piano with John Heirsoux and William Corbett-Jones, voice with Jane Sharp, Karen Connor, Vivian Mordeau, Jeanie Lovetri, Kate Baker and Sophie Lair-Berreby, and has completed Levels 1-3 of Somatic Voicework™ The Lovetri Method.

Suzanne Pittson "Emerge Dancing"

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August 2, 2024
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