Brian Ward, M.S.T.
Jazz Piano Instructor
Office: LH 237A
Brian learned to play jazz among Portland masters such as Leroy Vinnegar, Stu Cook, John Jensen, Ron Steen, Mel Brown, Eddie Wied and Janice Scroggins. During this time, Brian began playing gospel music in African-American churches where he learned the gospel tradition via trial by fire. Using these skills, he found his niche in Portland accompanying jazz vocalists such as Marilyn Keller, Shirley Nanette, Victoria Corrigan and Johnny Martin.
Brian completed his formal education graduating from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Music in 1999 and a Master of Science in Teaching in 2001. There he studied piano and improvisation with Andrew Hill, Randy Porter and Darrell Grant and composition and arranging with Tomas Svoboda, Charles Gray and Bryan Johanson. As a graduate assistant at PSU he assisted in teaching second year music theory and sight singing and developed a curriculum incorporating jazz improvisation for beginning piano students. As a composer and arranger Brian has had his works performed at jazz festivals and concert halls around the United States.
Always striving to learn music from different cultures, Brian has played with Ghanaian Master Drummer Obo Addy and his band Kukrudu and still maintains a musical relationship with Obo as a collaborator and arranger. Brian also delved deep into the blues tradition with legendary bluesman Curtis Salgado with whom he toured the United States and Canada extensively. Most recently Brian has been exploring the afro-cuban tradition with the Bobby Torres Ensemble and has been touring with Native-American performing artist Karen Therese as well as playing out locally with his own trio and the popular R&B/ funk band Ocean 503.
In 2006 Brian produced Wonderbread, his first CD as a leader. His compositions and playing show the breadth of his collective musical experience. Brian plays piano, electric piano, Hammond B3 and various synths. At the core of this album is the ensemble approach of his trio consisting of Willy Barber on bass and Reinhardt Melz on drums.