Cowell, Stanley (A.)

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Cowell, Stanley (A.)

Cowell, Stanley (A.) , jazz pianist, composer; b. Toledo, Ohio; b. May 5, 1941. He studied classical piano with two noted teachers, Mary Belle Shealy and Elmer Gertz; and pipe organ with William Harter. By 14, he was featured soloist with the Toledo Youth Orch., a church organist/choir director, and a budding jazz pianist. He attended Oberlin (B.M.) and Univ. of Mich. (M.M.). He also did undergraduate work at the Mozarteum Akademie, Salzburg, Austria, and graduate study at Wichita State Univ. and the Univ. of Southern Calif. After completing his studies, Cowell headed for N.Y. (1966) and worked with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Herbie Mann, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, and the Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land groups. For several years, he was part of Music Inc., along with Charles Tolliver, with whom he formed the innovative musician-owned record company Strata-East (1971). He organized the Piano Choir (1972), a group of seven N.Y.-based keyboardists, and he became a founding member of Collective Black Artists, Inc., a non-profit company devoted to bringing African American music and musicians to the public. He served as conductor of the CBA Ensemble (1973–74). In 1974 he was the musical director of the N.Y. Jazz Repertory Company at Carnegie Hall, along with Gil Evans, Billy Taylor, and Sy Oliver.

During the 1970s, Cowell established his reputation as a versatile and sensitive pianist/composer, performing and recording with Sonny Rollins, Clifford Jordan, Oliver Nelson, Donald Byrd, Roy Haynes, Richard Davis, Art Pepper, Jimmy Heath and others. From 1974–84, he toured, recorded and did workshops with the Heath Brothers. He received an Ohio Arts Council Grant for choral composition with jazz ensemble which was later performed in 1987. He taught jazz piano at New England Cons., Boston (1988–89). He did the score for The Dream Keeper: Langston Hughes, a one hour documentary aired on PBS (1988). He did a six-week residency with the Toledo Symphony Orch. consisting of lectures, workshops, interviews, and performances in area schools, colleges, public libraries, and media (1992). He was a recipient of a Meet the Composer/Rockefeller Foundation/AT&T Jazz Program grant (1990–91), for which he created “Piano Concerto No. I” (1992). He served on the board of the Charlin Jazz Society, producer of jazz concerts in Washington, D.C. (1990–96), and has been featured in many “third stream” works, conducted by Gunther Schuller and Larry Newland. For many years he lived in D.C. and commuted to teach at Lehman Coll. in the Bronx. During the 1999–2000 school year he began teaching at Rutgers Univ. in New Brunswick, N.J.


Brilliant Circles (1969); Blues for the Viet Cong (1969); Illusion Suite (1972); Questions and Answers (1973); Musa Ancestral Streams (1973); Regeneration (1975); Waiting for the Moment (1977); Talkin’ ’bout Love (1978); Equipoise (1978); We Three (1987); Sienna (1989); Back to the Beautiful (1989); Live at Maybeck Recital Hall V (1990); Close to You Alone (1990); Angel Eyes (1994); Setup (1994); Piano Jazz (1995); Live at Copenhagen Jazz House (1995); Mandara Blossoms (1996); Hear Me One (1997); Piano Choir: Handscapes, Vols. 1 & 2 (1974).

—Lewis Porter