At an early age Jed Distler already knew that he wanted to do four things professionally: play the piano, compose music, host a radio show, and write record reviews. It took him a while, but Jed eventually achieved his youthful ambitions. Although Jed contributed occasional reviews for small New York arts publications in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it wasn’t until 1992 that the 35-year-old composer and pianist got an opportunity to cover classical CDs on a regular basis. He began with a CD column for Piano Today magazine, followed by a stint at Tower Records’ in-store magazine Pulse!, and a contributing editorship at Piano & Keyboard. Jed also edited Tower’s 2001 Classical Music Guide.
Feature articles, interviews, profiles and editorial pieces soon followed, together with the first of more than 100 major and independent label booklet annotations for new releases and reissues featuring artists such as Leonard Bernstein, Martha Argerich, Claudio Arrau, Andor Foldes, Maurizio Pollini, Van Cliburn, Leon Fleisher, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Marc-André Hamelin, Vladimir Horowitz, Wilhelm Backhaus, Alfred Cortot, Joseph Szigeti, Walter Gieseking, Leopold Stokowski, Artur Schnabel, Paul Badura-Skoda and Ralph Kirkpatrick. Jed also wrote extensively for International Piano Quarterly, International Classical Record Collector, and BBC Magazine. He also wrote numerous editorial classical and jazz reviews for Amazon.com upon the launch of its music store.
In 1997 Jed was invited to join the reviewing staff of Gramophone, the world’s oldest and most venerated English language classical recording magazine, for whom he continues to contribute regular reviews and articles. Two years later Jed became a founding staff writer for Classicstoday.com, the internet’s first professional record reviewing site.
Jed garnered much attention and noteriety in 2007 for helping to uncover the scandal exposing hundreds of recordings fraudulently recited to pianist Joyce Hatto, and was featured in a television documentary on the subject.
Although Jed’s reviews cover a wide range of composers and genres, he’s best known for his coverage of piano music and pianists. Jed aims to describe performances in ways that both professionals and laymen can understand, to compare them with other recordings when relevant, and, finally, to make a recommendation, abetted by his deep working knowledge of the keyboard repertoire and its recorded history from acoustic cylinders to digital downloads. At the same time, Jed remains open to new artists, new interpretations and new technologies confounding his expectations.