Jazz Great Harold Danko in Two Concerts at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Jazz great and Mahoning Valley native Harold Danko will give two free concerts, April 12 and 14, as part of his residency at the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University.

A Masury native and a graduate of YSU’s Dana School of Music, Danko is a critically acclaimed jazz pianist, composer, band leader, recording artist and faculty emeritus from the Eastman School of Music, where he was the director of jazz studies. In addition to his large catalog of original music and recordings, Danko is known for his recordings with Woody Herman, Thad Jones, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz.

He was the speaker at the YSU spring 2021 commencement ceremony, where he received an honorary doctorate.

Danko’s residency at the Dana will be April 12-14, and will include a convocation with students at 4 p.m. April 14 in Ford Theater, lower level of Bliss Hall, on the YSU campus. The public is welcome to attend the convocation – at which he will be interviewed by Professor Kent Engelhardt – and the two concerts.

His first concert will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12. Danko will perform music from his latest recordings, “Rite Notes” and “Spring Garden,” in Ford Theater. The concert will be presented as a solo jazz piano recital.

Danko’s residency will culminate with a grand concert, “An Evening with Harold Danko,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Ford Theater. The concert will feature Danko with the YSU Jazz Combos and the YSU Jazz Ensemble.  

In a career spanning more than a half century, Danko has established himself as a distinguished pianist, composer and band leader, fortified by collaborations with jazz greats as well as in recordings, television and video. Based in New York during his freelance days in the 1970s and ’80s, he performed and toured internationally with vocalists Liza Minnelli, Chris Connor, Anita O’Day, Sheila Jordan, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Mel Torme, composed music for off Broadway and television productions, and participated in well over one hundred recordings.

Beginning his piano studies at the age of 5, he became serious about pursuing a career in jazz at age 15 when he began his studies with Gene Rush in Youngstown. After classical studies with Delores Fitzer, he attended the Dana School of Music, where he studied piano with Morris Risenhoover and Robert Hopkins while playing gigs and teaching in the area. 

His newest quartet CD, released in March, 2021 on the SteepleChase label, is entitled “Spring Garden.” “Rite Notes,” a followup solo piano CD, will be released in June. Both were inspired by the music of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

Pictured: Harold Danko (photo by Nils Winther, Steeplechase)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.