Mark Little
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Mark Little


Band Jazz Avant-garde


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The best kept secret in music


"Keyboard Magazine"

Impressive technique, a broad harmonic vocabulary, a sensitive feel for phrasing — all this and more tag Mark Little, former music director for Steve Allen, as a pianist of promise. These attributes, showcased by the framework of good taste, are on clear display in his debut disc. Mixing original tunes, standards, and a few lesser-known gems, Little unfurls fleet octave and single-line solos over strong left-hand stabs and the loose swing of bassist Tim Hauff and drummer Curt Moore. On such tunes as “My One and Only Love,” done solo, and “Detour Ahead,” his voicing dress the familiar changes in attractive (not distractive) shades; like a new shirt on old shoulders, they enhance, rather than obscure, the contours to which they are fashioned. From tinkly and delicate upper-register showers to emphatic basso rumbles, from the free dissonances of “Don't Question Mark” to the sensuous sway of “Algo Bossa,” Little is a master of expressive nuance. Instead of bravura and fireworks, Dream Walki'n presents a mature musical vision — a rare and encouraging portent of bright times to come.
- Robert Doerschuk

"Jazz Now Magazine"

The Tribe CD
Mark Little, piano; Peter Barshay. bass; Curt
Moore, drums; Alex Murzyn, saxophones
Prior to this release. Little played behind Art Farmer. Bobby McFerrin, Joe Henderson, and Bobby Hutcherson. Here he heads his own quartet,starting off on the right foot by covering John Scofield's
New Orleans-ish "Wabash III.” with a strong dose of Professor Lonfhair evident throughout. The pianist is not married to any particular style of song and moves from Horace Silver to Charlie Parker by way of Ray Noble for compositions to attack. "You Can't Go Home Again" and' "Song for Jennifer" are built on the lush chords and relaxed, elegant phrasing that defmed the style of BillEvans. Little's former piano teacher. "Harvey's Diamond," though, is almost too typically McCoy Tyner: it begins with a demonstrative chord, followed by a minor key left-hand phrase, and the right hand soon slams out machine-gun runs of notes. But whether every song works or not, what holds Little's broad musical scope together is a very full sound that few contemporary pianists can match.
- Dave McElfresh

"Jazz Times Magazine"

Dream Walkin’CD

Little, a pianist, displays deep understanding of jazz’s mainstream modes. Classicisms slip through, too. His touch is fingertip light, yet firm—akin to acknowledged inf1uences, Bill Evans and Steve Kuhn. This isn’t groundbreaking material. But it’s surely delightful. A real pleaser for fans of jazz piano who like to hear familiar motifs cast in a refreshing light.

- Deni Kasrel

"Candence Jazz & Blues Magazine"

The Tribe CD
Mark Little plays a repertoire of songs ranging from
Ray Noble to John Scofield, with a few originals thrown
in, and he proves himself to be a flexible mainstream
pianist. He gets a nice groove going on the Horace Silver
tune Tokyo Blues," where he varies his attack with a close attention to dynamics. The emotional tone of his solo reading of "You Can't Go Home Again" seems to be grounded in Bill Evans. "Song for Jennifer" starts similarly low-key but then becomes a showcase for Little's ability to build momentum at medium tempo. On his original "Carmen's Trance," Little compels attention with his timely shirts of tempo and articulation. Tenor
man Alex Murzyn appears on four tracks, blowing power tenor on the modal romp The Tribe," and offering cool elegance on “The Touch of Your Lips." Peter Barshay and Curt Moore comprise a tasty rhythm section, and help Little make this disc a solid one.
- Dale Smoak

"Jazziz Magazine"

Pianist Mark Little covers a lot of ground in his, from BillEvans-type ballads and some wacky humor on a hyper "Brigas Nunca Mais"a la Bobby Enriquez to a few free moments on "Don't Question Mark" and a bit of Keith Jarrett on "Speak of the Devil." but influence-dropping aside, Little's likable modern mainstream style swings happily on medium-tempo pieces such as "Only Trust Your'Heart" and "Sleeptight," and his ballad work is sensitive and sincere. Showcasing close interplay with his fine trio (featuring bassist Tim Hauff and drummer Curt Moore) and boasting four atmospheric guest appearances by saxophonist Alex Murzyn, Mark Little's well-placed set should easily satisfy bop fans.
- Scott Yanow

"What's Up Magazine San Antonio, Texas"

The Little family does not go in for predictable occupations. Local visual artist Ken Little operates Rrose Amarillo gallery. His youngest brother, Mark Little, is a world-class jazz Pianist. "And my middle brother is a cowboy," Ken said. "A real cowboy." Jazz fans have a couple of opportunities to watch piano-playing Mark Little work when he rolls in from Berkeley, California for a couple of local gigs. Little's touring for his third album, "Birthright "will be fronting a trio Wednesday at Boardwalk Bistro, 4011 Broadway Show, time is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5. Call 824-8100. Little will move to Art Pace 445 N Main, for a free solo performance at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Born and raised in Amarillo Little grew up playing everything from gospel to R& B. In the 70’s he went to Berkelee School of Music, studied with Bill Evans and returned to the prestigious music college to teach. Based on the West Coast since 1980.
Little, who has displayed a ton of chops as both a solo player and a member of an ensemble, has worked with Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Muldaur, Pharaoh Sanders and many others. There's no argument, Little knows his way around 88 keys.
- Jim Beal Jr.

"Community Music Center Newsletter"

Mark Little: The Heart of the Faculty

It's a fact: without the faculty, there would be no community Music Center. Few people express as eloquently as Mark Little the generous spirit that characterises
our faculty members. Says the Capp Street jazz piano instructor, "the environment and the people make (CMC) a special place to be, because of the whole purpose of the
institution. It's part of giving back, having a balance in my life …." For Mark, there is much to balance. He has broken out as a recording artist with two Grammy-nominated CDs. He recently wrote music for a ballet with Pharoah Saunders and Alonzo King, and has since collaborated on a new one. He has performed with the likes of John Handy, Joe Henderson, Bobbie McFerrin, Art Farmer and Clifford Jordan, toured with Cleo Lane and Maria Muldaur and served as musical director of Steve Alien's big band. Even as his career blossoms, he can still be found at Capp Street every Monday. Teaching at the Music Center is the greatest," he explains. "You get to deal with the spirit of music in its raw form. You get to see
people of all ages and abilities and backgrounds who are here for all sorts of reasons." Music was a force in Mark's life from an early age. Bom in Amarillo, Texas, he began studying classical piano at age six with Lydia Grey. By age eight he was playing in his first first, The Undertakers.After high school, an album caught his ear: Undercurrent, with Bill Evans and Jim Hall. A scholarship from the Berkelee School of Music in Boston led to instruction Madame Chaloff and Harvev Diamond, an encounter with Bill Evans himself. We talked a lot about Mozart," Mark recalled about the ensuing friendship. He also received informal lessons.
Six years later, he relocated to California and was hired as the house pianist at Kevstone Komor in San Francisco's North Beach. 1-career has been in high gear ever since. With his combination of talent and generosity. Mark Little is a bright example to the extraordinary people that are attracted to the old Victorian on Capp Street to make music happen.
- Faculty Member


dreamwalk'n, radio airplay
The Tribe, radio airplay
Birthright, radio airplay
isn't art it! radio airplay


Feeling a bit camera shy


“Little displays deep understanding of Jazz’s mainstream modes.
Classicism slip through too.” Jazz Times

Jazz Pianist, arranger, composer, recording artist: these words define this extraordinary musician... and his talents. He brings acoustic, straight-ahead jazz into the 90’s with contemporary chordings and fresh arrangements.
Jazziz describes his style as likable “modem mainstream.” asked to describe his own music, Little shifts the focus to other musicians who especially move him: Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Bill Evans (with whom he studied), Hampton Hawes, Martial Solal, Steve Kuhn, Keith Jarrett, Jaki Byard... Horowitz. “I give up on trying to tell you how my group sounds,” he says, “but I can tell you that it’s way beyond technique. When it’s right I feel liberated, free to play the cards as they fall, to let the spirit move through me. That’s why I play music.”
While he plays, gospel, blues, pop, country and western equally well, he prefers jazz because it is, in his words, “music with spirit.” Perhaps his attraction to the spirit of jazz is so strong because his musical foundation was established “in the church” in Amarillo, Texas, where he was born and raised. Little began piano lessons at the age of four, studying with the director of his church choir. Mastering the music quickly, he played by rote and then, flying in the face of tradition, he expanded with his own versions. Far from putting down her students as a musical vandal, his teacher enthusiastically encouraged him toward further innovation, a path Little has pursued ever since.
Mark played his first professional gig at six years of age. He joined an R & B group when he was 14, touring with them for four years. Moving from Amarillo to Austin in 1970, he began playing country and western with Willie Nelson, among others. But he was drawn to jazz, understandably, since he had always been an improviser. He received a scholarship from Berklee School of Music where he studied with teachers such as Bill Evans and Madame Chaloff (mystical, charismatic mother of the late baritone saxist, Serge Chaloff) He returned in 1975 to teach there.
In 1980, he migrated to the West Coast. His first performance, was at the legendary Keystone Corner in San Francisco. The next year was a jazz pianist’s dream as he played with a host of jazz greats who appeared at the Keystone.
Little became the pianist of choice for Cleo Lame and John Dankworth, working with them at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York. the Opera House in San Francisco, and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Their concert at Royal Albert Hall in London was recorded and featured on the Cavalcade of Stars series on PBS.

He composed and arranged for Bobby Mcferrin, as well as performing with him at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles. He toured the United States and Europe with Maria Muldaur, working at Fat Tuesday’s in New York City and Ronnie Scoff’s in London, among other places. On tour with Art Farmer and Clifford Jordan, Mark played the hottest clubs on the West Coast including Yoshi’s in San Francisco East Bay.
As pianist and musical director for the group African Roots of Jazz, he performed for Winnie and Nelson Mandela. In 1990, he was named Outstanding Jan/Blues Instrumentalist by the San Francisco Council on Entertainment.
Little has worked with a multitude of eminent jazz artists, including Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Sanders, Grady Tate, Eddie Henderson, Calvin Keys, Morgana King, Joe Lovano, Ted Curson, Shorty Rogers, Chico Freeman, Bobby Hutcherson, and Steve Mien
He recorded his first album a leader-dreamwalk’n -with saxophonist Alex Murzyn, bassist Tim Hauff and drummer Curt Moore. A beautiful and intriguing mixture of exciting up-tempo tunes, jazz standards, rollicking Brazilian rhythms, gospel, and touching ballads, reflecting Mark Little’s eclectic good taste in music, it received accolades, from fans and reviewers. Dreamwalkn ‘(MR 1001) was the first release on Monarch Records, in San Francisco Bay Area jazz label headed by Stephen Hall and Ted Hall, who are committed to the presentation of jazz recorded live-spontaneous, improvised music recorded direct to two track, exactly as performed by the artist.
Little’s second CD on the Monarch label, TheTribe, an October 1995 release, was recorded live-in-the-studio featuring the same musicians ass dreamwalkn’ with the exception of Peter Barshay on bass. Keyboard magazine’s Bob Doershouk says, “In quartet, trio and solo settings on original tunes and other repertoire, Little plays with exceptional sensitivity on this disc... The Tribe welcomes Mark Little to the front ranks of jazz piano.”
Mark’s third CD, “Birthright” is a solo live performance, recorded at Maybeck Studios. This is the first recording for CaraLittle Music, which is Mark’s independent label. “Herewith a couple of sentences as promised. Congratulations on “Birthright,” and the best of luck with it! “Mark Little’s sp