December 1999

Sarah Jane Cion

Pianist Sarah Jane Cion has developed a solid reputation for herself as a sideman and composer, but now, after finishing her second release, Moon Song, on the Naxos Jazz label, she’s focused on her role as a leader and being positioned to express herself “more emotionally and from my heart.”

Introduced to jazz at the tender age of 14 by her father, Cion, at his urging, began studying jazz piano in Boston. “The teacher’s prerequisite was for me to buy a copy of Kind of Blue, and when I heard Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, that was it! I knew I had to play that way.”

The Evans influence is evident in her playing, and she cites him as her first and deepest influence. “Because I was blessed with a fairly good technique playing classical music as a child, I tend to go for a very crisp style, where every note means a lot to me,” she says.

Composing doesn’t necessarily come that easy to her, she says, but situations in her life often spark emotional responses that inspire her to write: “Occasionally I’ll also write from a technical standpoint—such as “Blues for Chick, on the Moon Song release, where I aimed for a specific “Here he sings, now he sobs” vibe. But most of the time I’m coming from an emotional place, writing about personal experiences.”

Joining Cion on the Moon Song trio date is guest artist Chris Potter on tenor and soprano, with Billy Hart on drums and Chris Palombi on bass. Her previous release, Indeed!, on CAP Jazz, features Cion in a variety of formats, from graceful solo piano to quintet arrangements, and features Antonio Hart on alto.

As a young player in New York, Cion worked for respect in the jazz community, and her efforts have been successful. Now managed by Steve Getz, son of Stan, Cion was a recent guest on Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, and is looking ahead to the European “Rising Star” tour in February, followed by a busy schedule of concert and club gigs.

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