Stacken, Jesse

Peter Gannushkin /

Peter Gannushkin /

Primary Scene: Beacon, NY (2015- ), Brooklyn/New York (2005-2015)

Jesse Stacken, “one of the most impressive pianists and composers of his generation,” (NYC Jazz Record) is an artist of true integrity and imagination.

The Jesse Stacken Trio, with bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummer Jeff Davis, released three critically acclaimed recordings on the Fresh Sound New Talent label, including Bagatelles for Trio (2012) of which Peter Margasak wrote in Downbeat Magazine, “The trio brings an oblique but real heat and emotion to the performances, and as a whole the album coheres brilliantly.”

The following Stacken release on Fresh Sound New Talent, Helleborus (2014) features a stellar working quartet with saxophonist Tony Malaby, bassist Sean Conly, drummer Tom Rainey, masterfully performing nine original compositions.   Nate Chinen writes in the New York Times, ”At every turn on “Helleborus,” the ensemble plays with gusto, coherence and license, heeding the framework without ever sounding hemmed in.”    

Stacken has a long time partnership with cornetist Kirk Knuffke. Together they have released five critically acclaimed records on the Steeplechase label, the first four featuring compositions by the great jazz performer composers such as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Carla Bley, Bill Evans, and more.  Their latest release, Satie (2016) is a cornet and piano duo adaptation of the music of classical composer Erik Satie.  “A collection of piano studies opened up for improvisation and approached with a combination of lyric ecstasy and intellectual rigor (the proper way to take on the most eccentric of the Big Three fin-de-siècle French impressionist composers).” -Francis Davis, Village Voice

Since 2010, Stacken has been a pioneer in the art of conceptual home-recording blogging projects, utilizing the internet as a means for sharing his creative process with the people all over the world.  The first five projects, each a year in duration, consisted of 1.) a daily improvisation, 2.) 52 extended improvisations that were required to be over an hour in length completed and uploaded once a week, 3.) 52 original compositions recorded and uploaded weekly, 4.) 52 original compositions that utilized the techniques of the French composer Olivier Messiaen, and 5.) 12 self-made films with music uploaded once a month. Stacken’s current project is titled 24 Standards and entails him writing solo piano arrangements of 24 Standard American Songbook tunes, and recording and sharing them.

Stacken grew up in Hopkins, MN, earned his bachelors degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and then earned his masters degree in Jazz Piano from the Manhattan School of Music, studying under Garry Dial. Stacken lives in Beacon, New York with his wife Akiko Sasaki, their dog Minnie, and a flock of backyard hens. He and Sasaki run Forte Piano Studio, passing on the tradition and joy of piano playing to youth and adults.


Cisco BradleyStacken, Jesse