Assistant Professor/Associate Director of Jazz Studies/Jazz Vocal Studies
Born into a family of professional musicians, Suzanne Pittson began piano lessons at age eight. She subsequently earned a Bachelor of Music in piano/music education and Master of Arts in musicology where the topic of her master’s thesis was “Developmental Techniques in the Late Piano Pieces of Johannes Brahms.” When a hand injury forced her to explore other forms of artistic expression, she began to sing jazz. Applying her many years of piano study to the voice, she set out to learn and apply the vocabulary of jazz instrumentalists to her vocal art. Performances at jazz clubs and various concert venues were accompanied by eight years of classical voice study. Three critically acclaimed CD’s followed: Blues and the Abstract Truth, Resolution: A Remembrance of John Coltrane, featuring original lyrics to Coltranes’ seminal composition “A Love Supreme,” and most recently, Out of the Hub: The Music of Freddie Hubbard, featuring lyrics approved by Hubbard, just prior to his 2008 death.
For more than a decade Suzanne served as a jazz vocal instructor at Sonoma State University, U.C. Berkeley, and the JazzSchool. Since coming to New York in 2005, she has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Dave Liebman, John Patitucci, Buster Williams, Steve Wilson, Mike Clark, Jeremy Pelt, Harvie S and others. She has been recognized for her musicianship and improvisational skills, called “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.” (All About Jazz). JazzTimes states: “To paint vocal canvases that match the power and glory of Hubbard’s work is a tall–some would say insurmountable order. Pittson’s ability to rise fearlessly to the challenge goes beyond mere vocal legerdemain, revealing soul-deep creative empathy,” and Jazz Inside New York says: “Some controversy exists over just what makes a jazz vocalist. Listen to Suzanne Pittson and you’ll know.” Ms. Pittson recently performed at the JEN conference in Louisville, KY and completed a residency in the Dobbs Ferry School District, where she taught the students the basics of improvisation. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, NY with her husband, pianist Jeff Pittson, and son Evan.
B.M., M.A., San Francisco State University