Louis Heriveaux

Born in Queens, New York, only 25 minutes away from Harlem, which was once known as America’s Jazz Mecca, one might suspect that Louis would have gotten his early beginnings in Jazz, as a youngster, dipping and dodging in and out of Jazz clubs in the Big Apple. However, the road Heriveaux traveled is a journey more intriguing to read about. As a toddler, Louis’ mother would play the piano and sing nursery rhymes to him. Climbing onto the piano bench at a mere three years old, it became obvious to his mother that she should enroll him in a class. So at age five, Louis began formal piano lessons. Louis’ family relocated to Tampa, Florida when he was seven years old. Knowing that it was time for Louis to expand his piano skills, his mother sought out the well-known college professor Dr. Judith Edberg of Tampa University. Louis became the youngest student to ever be accepted by a college instructor of her magnitude. Under her tutelage, he mastered Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D major, and played his first recital at age 7. Louis recalls hearing Jazz as a child. “I would hear music on television shows such as Charlie Brown and Mr. Rogers and tell my parents I wanted to play music that sounds like that. Unfortunately there was no outlet for this music in the area where we lived. Since my earliest exposure was primarily classical music, for me, Jazz still remained just beyond my reach.” Louis’ family relocated to Griffin, Georgia, just in time for him to begin ninth grade at Griffin High School. He fit right into the music program, taking the seat of accompanist for the school chorus. The chorus director was so impressed by Louis’ playing that he entered him into various piano competitions. For two years consecutively he won first place honors. During the summer of his freshman and sophomore years, he won scholarship competitions held at the University of Georgia, Athens. Then Came Jazz! The summer after his junior year of high school, Louis was selected to attend The Governors Honors Program. The top 10% of students in every academic field attended a prestigious university for six weeks of intense studies. It was here that Louis received his initial exposure to Jazz. “I was exposed to charts and improvisation, the mechanics of the music and how a pianist could make their own choices about what to play – from chord voicings to musical lines. In spite of the fact that I was pretty good in classical, I never planned to be a musician for a living. My plans were to become a pharmacist, but instead I fell in love with Jazz. When I returned home I practiced and studied on my own.” That same year he made first chair in Jazz All State. With these honors now under his belt, Louis began honing his skills. Let the Gigs Begin! After graduating from Griffin High School, Louis settled in Atlanta, Georgia. Louis began playing Jazz on Atlanta’s Jazz scene, at age 17. Heads began to turn and fellow musicians and club owners began to take notice of his early signs of professionalism and confidence at the piano. At age 19, a prominent Jazz guitarist began frequenting jam sessions in Atlanta, where Louis often played. After several visits to the jam sessions, it was Russell Malone that hand-picked Louis to join his world-class quartet. Louis graciously accepted the invitation and became an international musician, touring with Malone for two years, on some of the most famous stages Jazz music has ever known. From Carnegie Hall, to the Leone Jazz Festival in France, Louis was gaining valuable experience. Louis recalls, “We played on the same bills as some of the greatest musicians. I met many of my heroes in person that I had only known from recordings.” Louis’ time spent with Malone was a pivotal move in his budding career as a musician. That gig opened doors for other opportunities. Jazz vocalists began to seek Louis out for his skills as an accompanist. He has an innate sensibility to assess their needs during a performance and at rehearsals. Louis once again hit the road, touring with vocalist Jeanie Bryson. His finesse on the piano also caught the attention of Nnenna Freelon who sought him out as an accompanist as well. Louis is a favorite for many notable musicians such as Jimmy Heath and Ralph Peterson when they perform in Atlanta. After being impressed by Louis, Donald Brown immediately called Kenny Garrett, and referred him for upcoming gigs. He has appeared as a member of The Russell Gunn Quartet, featuring vocalist Dionne Farris. His name is becoming more and more familiar to the top names in Jazz, as he continues to appear on national and international Jazz scene. Recordings & Such Louis is no newcomer to the studio. His expert approach to Jazz piano during live performances is what leads many instrumentalists to select him as the featured pianist on their recordings. In 1993, Louis recorded with saxophonist Bob Miles on his CD entitled, ‘Ancestral Spirits.’ During 2006, Louis joined The Christain Tamburr Quartet on their CD titled, ‘Arrivals.’ In 2011, Louis joined forces with a musical peer from Atlanta, trumpeter Melvin Jones, to play piano on Jones’ debut CD release entitled, ‘Pivot.’ One of his most recent recording endeavors is his contribution on the CD by Joe Gransden and Russell Gunn titled, ‘Jazz Contrast – Tribute to Kenny Dorham. Also in 2013, Louis had the pleasure of playing with The Russell Gunn Quartet for the live recording of Dionne Farris’ CD titled, ‘Dionne Get Your Gunn.’ Keeping busy in 2013 is an understatement for Heriveaux, who was the pianist on Miguel Alvarado’s CD titled, ‘Frankly Speaking.’ Other notable CD appearances include those with Georgia State professors Mace Hibbard and David Frackenpohl as well as vocalist Laura Coyle. His list of recordings continues to grow, as he is requested for studio sessions on a steady basis. He has gained an immeasurable amount of knowledge and experience while working as a sideman, but he also has a strong desire to work on a solo project, which is already underway. After capturing the listening ear of renowned bassist, Curtis Lundy, the two are now looking forward to collaborating in the near future. Musical Mentors As a teenager, Louis was drawn to the musical stylings of pianist Johnny O’Neal. He frequented Just Jazz, where Mr. O’Neal played piano on a weekly basis. O’Neil coined himself Louis’ ‘musical father.’ Among other influences are Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Kirkland, Cedar Walton, Herbie Hancock and Bud Powell. Another renowned musician that took a liking to Louis’ style is pianist Freddy Cole. Mr. Cole has been a frequent guest at Louis’ engagements. When asked about Louis Heriveaux, Mr. Cole simply replied, “Louis is baaad.” Aside From Jazz… The talents and ingenuity of Louis Heriveaux reach further than the wide world of Jazz. He is also a writer and music producer in his own right. He has written and produced music for many artists in such genres as Pop, R & B and Hip Hop. In 2000, Louis was signed to DARP – Dallas Austin Recording Projects, as one of their key producers. While with DARP, he worked with TLC and Spyse. He also joined forces with Timbaland on his Beat Club Records label. Louis wrote and produced tracks for 112, Genuwine, Jeezy, Jazze Pha, and Rick Ross. He worked with rapper Snoop Dog as well. Heriveaux Today Louis Heriveaux has made waves in the Jazz world and continues to make them every week on the Atlanta Jazz scene. His long standing gig at Houston’s Restaurant in Buckhead, allows him the opportunity to build a following and show that he can command the piano in a mellow tone, just as magnificently as he can swing it in grand venues such as Carnegie Hall. Louis can also be heard playing at Georgia’s Juke Joint in downtown Atlanta, during Sunday afternoon brunch. A typical week for Louis may include sharing his musical talents with David Potter and Friends, at ‘The Music of Miles,’ a fundraiser for WRFG 89.3, doing an exclusive interview for The City Café segment of All Things Considered, on NPR, or appearing at one of many music festivals across the nation. Louis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with a concentration in Jazz Studies, from Georgia State University. Heriveaux has so much to offer the world of Jazz. He remains true to the authentic art form, while infusing his own personal style. Whether through his delicate touch when approaching ballads or a hard, effective swing, when the moment requires, the effect he has on his audience is captivating and full of surprises. Without a doubt he renders earful after earful of good, pure, real Jazz. The next time you think Jazz. Think Louis Heriveaux. Written by DeAnna V. Weeden from http://louisheriveaux.com

Leave a Comment