On his path to musical self-discovery, pianist Spike Wilner set out to make himself a part of his New York City community. He'd buy old pianos and give them to bars for free, in exchange for a regular night for Spike to play there. We were happy to provide a freshly tuned piano to Spike when he brought his New York friends with him for a spirited Studio Session.
About a decade ago, Wilner took over operations of the Greenwich Village jazz club Small's. He's made it a home for what he calls "New York Jazz,” grown over the last century from stride piano blues through swing and bebop, then to the stratosphere with free jazz.
It's also about the "hang,” establishing a reasonably priced space for musicians to gather, listen and learn from each other, and to celebrate the culture of jazz that continues to lead the music into the future.
The Spike Wilner Quartet is a seasoned crew, with Joe Magnarelli's trumpet and flugelhorn alongside Paul Gill on bass and Anthony Pinciotti drumming. These talented musicians have played into the early hours with each other for years, and their performance live on KNKX was proof.
His first love is stride and ragtime piano, but Spike Wilner's style is timeless. He's playing beautiful melodies and exploring the limits of the piano, in conversation with longtime friends and collaborators. They tell instrumental stories that rival the tales of New York jazz life that Spike also loves to share.
Maintaining a strong musical community is equally valued in the Pacific Northwest. They were wrapping up a 3-night mini-tour of Western Washington with a couple nights in Vancouver ahead of them, and we agree with Spike and his band that we should make this visit from the Big Apple a regular thing.