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Dan Lamaestra, Musician, Composer/Arranger: Bio/Gear/CD's/Misc

Dan's Online Bio

Born in Argentina and raised in both the United States and his home country, Dan La Maestra brings a diverse set of musical influences to his music, ranging from classic swing-era jazz of the mid 20th century and European classical music to authentic and modern Argentinian Tango and Brazilian bossa-nova.

A classically trained musician and multi-instrumentalist as well( guitar and bass), he is comfortable in a large variety of musical situations, from solo piano in a lounge to featured soloist in a large jazz orchestra, and just about anything in-between.


As a sideman, composer and/or arranger, Mr. La Maestra has recorded 18 projects with different artists in the past ten years, including “The Brightest Star” and “This is New” with vocalist Patty Mckay for Peppermint Records, “Live at Blues Alley”, “Live at the Lyceum”, “The Lady Sings Jazz”, and "The Essence of Me", with vocalist Nia Olabesi for D.E.M Enterprises, “Half-past Swing” with jazz vocal quartet “Uptown”, his own critically acclaimed CD debut as a leader, “Dan La Maestra and One Step Up…Just a Thought”, featuring 5 of his own compositions with various arrangements of standards.
In the "Smooth Jazz" genre, he has recorded “Island Life”, “Old Friends”, and “Slow Dance” for nationally known smooth-jazz guitarist Ken Navarro, "Turning Point" for guitarist Jim Adkins, as well as appearing as keyboardist and as the composer of “Open Road” on “Every Moment”, the 2001 smooth-jazz debut CD release of Cincinnati sax giant Randy Villars for Positive Music Records.
Most recently he recorded "Three Shades of Blue" with the Navy Commodores Jazz Ensemble, a CD that features Dan as pianist, composer/arranger(Revell's Reverie), and arranger(A Night In Tunisia).

He has also perfomed with: Bob Mintzer, Jerry Bergonzi, Jim Snidero, Ken Navarro, Eric Marienthal, Nelson Rangell, Gary Grainger, Slim Man, Blues Webb, Patty Mckay, Nia Olabesi, Ron Holloway, The Tom Cunningham Orchestra, Rob Holmes, Loston Harris, Carmen Bradford, Sunny Sumpter, and numerous other musicians and bandleaders, as well as shared the stage with Joe Sample, Kirk Whalum, Boney James, Brian Culbertson, Tower of Power, George Benson, Spyro-Gyra, and other great artists at major Jazz festivals around the country.

In the fall of 2000, Dan toured the United States as the keyboardist with The Smooth Grooves Tour, featuring Ken Navarro, Eric Marienthal, and Slim Man, playing for huge audiences across the country.

Since 2002, Dan has held the prestigious position of Pianist with the internationally renowned Navy Commodores Jazz Ensemble. After an arduous audition process, and nine trying weeks at Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes, he secured the spot and became Active-duty Navy, permanently residing in the Washington DC area.

In addition to his jazz music, Dan also writes and performs pop and rock music. As a guitarist and singer with “The Sarah Croker Band”, playing Dobro, acoustic guitar, and keys, Dan was featured on her debut album, "Meet The Day", which came out in late Summer, 06. You can order a copy direct from Sarah, at her website( see links page).

Dan is also the leader/lead singer of a rock and roll cover band that entertains in his local area, called The Beachcombers. For more info on this project, please go to the links page.

A prolific composer and arranger, Dan is working on the music for his next CD, featuring a number of original big band compositions and arrangements. It is expected to be out sometime in 2008.

Dan also runs a music production studio, "One Step Up Studio", geared towards songwriters that need help with arrangements and producing to help bring their songs to life. His latest project along these lines, as of Sept 2007, is "Giubileo", the new CD release by Opera Vocalist Angela Knight.

Dan's Gear

I have enjoyed playing multiple instruments for over a decade, and when asked, I often cite this personal trait as the main thing that keeps music fresh, fun, and challenging for me.

I mainly play Keyboard/Piano, Guitar(several kinds), and Electric Bass.

I work as a jazz pianist on a freelance basis, and enjoy subbing in from time to time in top 40 bands, as a keyboardist, guitarist, or bassist. In Sarah Croker's Band I mainly play acoustic guitars, and sometimes piano.

In my Navy band job, I mainly play piano, but have from time to time played bass and guitar, when needed.

PIANIST(Keys, Organ)-

Clavia Nord Stage 88
Roland FP-5 Digital Piano
Yamaha MO8 Workstation
Kurzweil PC-2X, and PC-88MX
Kurzweil KME-61
Alesis QS-6
Hammond XK-3 Digital Organ

GUITARIST -

Takamine EF341SC Steel String Acoustic
Takamine EC132SC Nylon String Classical
Steinberger GM4T Electric
Paul Beard Gold Tone Resophonic Guitar, w/ Fishman Pickup
Boss Loop Pedal

BASSIST -

Kubicki Ex Factor 4 string
Kramer Spector 4-string ( had it since high school, still feels and sounds great!)
Tobias 5-string electric

VOCALIST -

TC Helicon VoiceLive (an indispensable piece for solo and small group gigs. Truly have to hear it to believe it)

As of 2001, I no longer own or play acoustic bass, as a result of some unfortunate hand problems I began to develop, just from that instrument. After leaving it behind, I am happy to report no more problems, thankfully.

STUDIO -

I notate using Finale 2007, running on an Intel MacMini.

I record and mix using MOTU Digital Performer 5.12 on a MAC Platform (OS 10.4.10), and Reason 3.0.5
I also run an Mbox with ProTools LE for easy transfer back and forth for those clients that require that format.
It has become routine for me to do "pre-production" in my studio to save $$ before finishing a project elsewhere.

For work in most commercial studios, I frequently transfer files back and forth between DD Pro-tools and MOTU DP, and have found it a very comfortable and convenient way to work.

Dan's Discography

Dan Lamaestra and One Step Up - "Just a Thought"
(Leader, producer, arranger, pianist)

The US Navy Band Commodores Jazz Ensemble - "Directions"
(Pianist, organ, arranger, writer )

The US Navy Band Commodores Jazz Ensemble - "Three Shades of Blue"
(Pianist, arranger, writer)

Geoff Robson - " Days of The Last Crusade" -
(Producer, Arranger, Played and Programmed Musical Parts, Recording and Mixing Engineer)

Angela Knight - "Giubileo" (Producer, Arranger, Played and Programmed Musical Parts, Recording and Mixing Engineer)

Geoff Robson - "Lest We Forget" - 2 song EP
(Arranger, engineer, piano, guitars, dobro, synths, graphic design)

Sarah Croker - "Meet The Day"
(Guitars, keyboard, dobro, vocals, writer, arranger)

Patty Mckay - "The Brightest Star", "This Is New"
(Pianist, arranger, music director)

Uptown VJQ - "Half-Past Swing"
(Pianist)

Ken Navarro - "Island Life”, “Old Friends”, and “Slow Dance”
(keyboards, synth programming and arranging)

Jim Adkins - "Turning Point"
(keyboards, synth programming and arranging)

Randy Villars - "Every Moment"
(keyboards, synth programming and writer of "Open Road")

Rob Holmes - "Turnstyles"
(writer, arranger, keyboards, synths, graphic design)

Kathy Lyon - "Live at the Tom-Kat Night Club", "Here's to Life"
(arranger, pianist)

Doug Segree - "Turn"
(keyboards)

Nia Olabesi -
“Live at Blues Alley”, “Live at the Lyceum”, “The Lady Sings Jazz”, and "The Essence of Me"
(Pianist, arranger, music director, and engineer on "The Essence of Me")

Influential Jazz players and Records

In a recent email, I was asked a question by a college student regarding what pianists inspire me and who I listen to. Since I haven't thought about this in some time, I was not surprised by the length of my email reply, and it brought back a flood of memories of players and recordings that, in the jazz piano arena, have been key to my development. So, I thought I would post just the info part of the email here for anyone else who is interested.


Here are some pianists who I listen to or have listened to that inspire me:

Geoffrey Keezer - a total virtuoso and innovator....possibly the
greatest living jazz pianist in the world. Yes, he's that good. He
also plays keyboards well. check out "Turn up the quiet", and
"Falling Up". Also his trio record with Ray Brown Trio, "Live at
Starbucks" is shocking in it's display of technical wizardry.

Phineas Newborn Jr - He died over two decades ago, and his discography
is spotty, but he was an amazing player. Check out "A World of
Piano". Also, he did a album with orchestra, called "While My lady
Sleeps".

Chick Corea - One of the best and brightest still, at over 60 years
old even! All of his music is great, but what took me personally over
the top was his live trio record with Dave Weckl and John Pattituci,
(Alive, The Akoustic Band). I also have a DVD of that show. I must
have listened to/watched that concert 1,000 times.

Benny Green - amazing skills, not specifically an innovator harmonically, but a
follower of the Oscar Peterson and Bud Powell bebop style. He has a
beautiful touch, and his stride piano is unparralleled. Check out
"The Benny Green Trio, testifyin at The Village Vanguard". This is a
wonderful record.

Oscar Peterson - A legend. Recently passed away. Amazing career, huge
discography...start with the four disc set, "Exclusively for my
Friends". Also his episode on "PianoJazz" with Marian Mcpartland is
very insightful into his playing. I would say his style informs much
of what I do, since it is clean, precise, and greasy and bluesy at the
same time!

Bill Evans - Died almost thiry years ago. Totally changed the jazz
piano world with his seminal "Live at the Village Vanguard"
recordings. get "waltz for debby". I think of him often when I play
piano. Also, a great record is his duet with Tony Bennett, "the Tony
Bennett Bill Evans Album". His voicings and touch on songs like
"Young and Foolish"and "When in Rome" are shocking in thier scope and
precision, and orchestral approach.

Keith Jarrett - Brilliant to the core, huge discography. One of my
favorites is the live trio cd, "The cure", which I have copped and
listened to for over 15 years and it still sound fresh. If you get
it, check out his improvised intro to "Body and Soul"....I find that
specifically to be genius and transcendental in every way.

Some others include : Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, Brad Mehldau, Bill
Charlap, Art Tatum, Red Garland, Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Richie
Beirach, Cyrus Chestnut, Hal Galper, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and George
Colligan( lives in new york, now teaches jazz at
Julliard), and David Kane, a pianist local to Maryland, who taught me some lessons many years ago that I still think about...his "Solotude" CD is wonderful.


As you can see, the list could go on and on. I must own over 100 jazz
piano trio cd's by different players, even more jazz solo, quartet,
etc. It is daunting to think about.
In fact, I will even post this list on my website for others to read,
since I just took the time to write it....look what you did!! :)

My advice is to listen to specific reordings closely, with your eyes
closed, and envision yourself playing what they are playing. Try to
be as specific as possible in your mind. Listen to what they are
listening to...the bass player, drummer, sax player, etc. I did this
and still do this. You see, the actual notes you play may be
different(or not), but what you want is to internalize and feel the
phrasing, rhythmic conception, and overall dynamic and style of these
players.
I once did a weekly gig with a singer and jazz trio where our closing
song was a medium up tempo jazz blues. For my extended solo, the
singer would at random call out a jazz pianist's name, and I would
play the next 12 bars in that style! Those were fun days for me.

Also, remember that in the "real world", many people have no idea of
the breadth of jazz piano styles and of what it takes to be a
competent player. If you become an excellent and well informed jazz
player, you will be able to play ANY STYLE forever. Jazz is the only
type of music that prepares you for EVERYTHING ELSE.

Some things I do in addition to playing jazz piano that all benefit
from my jazz piano ear training and learning - guitar, dobro, bass,
organ, sing, compose, arrange, record and produce, transcribe, teach.

Also, reading music and lead sheets is important, but for the
nashville scene, also learn the "nashville numbering system", which is
a unique way to chart out tunes for easy reading in studios. In fact,
there is a article on this is the recent issue of "recording
musician".

I could go on and on, but I will stop here. You caught me on the road
in a hotel, so I have plenty of time to reflect and ruminate on these
things!

November/2007

This was an interesting and insightful process, to think about all this stuff again. As I have branched out into many other musical endeavors in the last decade, time moves faster it seems, and it is always nice to reflect on the past.
I hope you enjoyed reading this little list of mine, and please sign in to my guestbook page if you have any response...I would love to hear from you!