Called “an altogether extraordinary pianist” by Michael Redmond in the Newark Star Ledger, “the Downtown Keyboard Magus” in the New Yorker, and “a witty, genial and adventurous pianist and composer” in the New York Times, Jed Distler has premiered works by Frederic Rzewski, Lois V Vierk, Wendy Mae Chambers, Simeon ten Holt, Richard Rodney Bennett, Alvin Curran, William Schimmel, Virgil Thomson, Andrew Thomas and Virko Baley, among many others.
Jed’s principal classical piano teachers were Stanley Lock and William Komaiko, although he considers Dick Hyman, Hank Jones and Bill Evans important mentors in his early years when he played jazz for a living.
As a recitalist, Jed has given new music programs across the United States and Europe from Italian festivals in Ravello, Sorrento and Erculano to New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. The list of musicians, spoken word performers, visual artists and choreographers with whom Jed has collaborated is a veritable Who’s Who of the New York arts scene in late 20th-century New York. In the 1980s Jed worked closely with dance legend Jacques D’Amboise and, more recently, played Beethoven with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and has performed with singers as diverse as Phyllis Bryn-Julson and KT Sullivan. In 2012 Jed launched a solo piano project encompassing jazz icon Thelonious Monk’s complete songs in a single concert, and has performed it in New York, Las Vegas, Berkeley, Italy and Germany. Jed conceived and programmed 100 Portraits for Virgil, the first complete performance of all the Virgil Thomson piano portraits in a day long, multi-media festival featuring thirty six performers, co-produced by the New School and Composers Collaborative, the latter for whom he serves as artistic director. He led the New York premier of Simeon ten Holt’s minimalist manifesto Canto Ostinato with four pianos outdoors on Cornelia Street, where he also directed 150 performers for Terry Riley’s “In C” for the first annual Make Music New York festival in 2007. In 2014 Jed and fellow composer/pianist Massimo Giuseppe Bianchi formed a piano duo devoted to old and new music as well as improvisation. The 2017/8 season sees the launch of “Rag-a-Thon,” featuring Jed’s performances of newly commissioned rags from the world’s leading composer/pianists.
Jed’s most recent CD, Meditate with the Masters, released by Musical Concepts in 2011, contains soothing, relaxing original piano pieces based on familiar classical themes. Canadian journalist Cendrine Marrouat wrote “Distler plays with such grace and lightness that the beautiful emotions he delivers speak directly to the senses, and ultimately to our inner child.” Jed’s keyboard prowess also graces numerous other CDs on the CRI, New World, Spectra, Fin Alley Arts, Strange Music, Laserlight and Coney Island labels. As a Steinway Artist, Jed has recorded prolifically for Steinway Spirio, a high-resolution player piano system, and will be recording several CDs for the Steinway & Sons label.