Karim Merchant, Piano

karim merchantKarim was born in 1977 in London, England. He was already studying classical piano and violin when, at 16, he became attracted to jazz.  In 1995 he came first in the “senior solo” and “senior group” sections (the latter as part of the Thomas Allan Quartet) of the Daily Telegraph Young Jazz Competition.  In 1997 (again with Thomas Allan), he was a winner of the Perrier Young Jazz Competition.
From 1996 until 2000 he studied with Simon Purcell and Paul Roberts at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating with a Bachelor of Music Degree (jazz major).  While there, he participated in numerous workshops and lessons, including some given by international artists such as Dave Liebman, John Patitucci, John Taylor, James Williams, and Randy Brecker.  He has also had lessons with ex-Dexter Gordon pianist Kirk Lightsey and ex-Jazz Messengers pianist Donald Brown.

From July 2000 until August 2004 he maintained a professional career as a London-based freelance jazz musician.  During this time he played at many of London’s top jazz establishments, such as Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express, the 606 Club and the Vortex amongst others.  He has also played at many other venues elsewhere in the UK and Europe, and jazz festivals such as Brecon (Wales), Manchester and Bratislava.

He is a past member of the Ingrid Laubrock quartet, with one album currently available from Candid Records (‘Some Times’, CCD79774), and another currently due to come out this year.  In addition, he leads a UK piano trio (with fellow UK musicians Larry Bartley and Troy Miller), performing many originals and arrangements.  He has also played with (amongst others): ex-Jazz Messenger Jean Toussaint, MOBO Award-Winner Soweto Kinch, trumpeter Byron Wallen, Tony Kofi, Julian Siegel, Mike Williams, Jason Yarde and Gene Calderazzo.
Since September 2004, he has been studying with Kenny Barron at Manhattan School Of Music in New York on their 2-year MMus degree course. During this time, he has played at various venues, including the Jazz Gallery in Greenwich Village (alongside Soweto Kinch).

He has taught in many jazz workshops around the UK, including the residential Wavendon course, where (as a member of the senior jazz faculty), he recently taught alongside Alan Barnes, Tim Garland, Will Vinson, Jacqui Dankworth and Trevor Tompkins.  He also coaches a jazz band at Wagner Junior High School on New York’s East Side.
His other musical interests include contemporary gospel music, R’n’B  and hip-hop, but he is always keen to discover new sounds and musical styles.

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The Abyssinian Baptist Church Music Ministry

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