Al Giambattista has found us a world-class jazz pianist in Peter Malinverni, who is also a composer and educator. Born in Niagara Falls to Pete and Sue Malinverni, the family moved to Lewiston when he was seven. He started studying classical piano at age six with a local legend Laura Copia. He continued with her through his high school years and also played in a band during these years along with his cousin, guitarist Paul Chiodo and several other friends.

Pete credits music teacher Douglas Monroe at Lewiston-Porter with helping him hone his love for music and with instilling in him the thought that a life in music might be possible for him. After high school, he went off to the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, where he took his degree in Music.

When he returned home during the summers he played with some of the talented musicians from Western New York, including Frank Accardo, Ed Roscetti, Jim Coleman, John Barbara, Sam Cassano, Billy Rosati, as well as established veterans Joe Romano and Sam Noto among others. When you have a natural talent like Pete it was “fine tuned” during these gigs. With his schooling complete, Pete moved alone to New York City in the early 1980s and found work playing solo piano in some of the best known restaurants and cafes in Manhattan and, as he met other players, began his career performing with his trio. His first recording, “Don’t Be Shy”, on the Sea Breeze Jazz label during 1987, featured jazz great and Buffalo native Mel Lewis at the drums, along with bassist Dennis Irwin. Since then, he’s recorded as pianist, composer and arranger 15 times as leader, in piano solo, trio, quartet, quintet, large ensemble and gospel choir settings, and these recordings have been well-received by reviewers and public alike. His work has taken him all over the United States, as well as around the world, to South America, Japan and Europe.

He began teaching in the 1990s, first at William Paterson University in New Jersey and NYU in Manhattan. He now serves as tenured associate professor and chair of the Jazz Studies Department at the Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase, just north of NYC. While there he founded and leads a 70-voice choir, the Soul Voices, for which he arranges music of the African-American tradition.

Locals in Lewiston were proud that he was a regular at the Lewiston Jazz Fest for several years. While there he worked with his late wife, singer Jody Sandhaus and Upstate Express, a septet composed of his long-time friend, teacher and mentor, pianist/composer Ron Corsaro, whom he credits with teaching him much about how to be a professional musician.

Pete told Al that he continues to perform regularly these days in New York in the company of the Jazz world’s luminaries, and to compose and record. His latest, a trio recording “Heaven” saw significant airplay on Jazz platforms around the world, and he’s currently working on a trio recording of some of the arrangements of the music of Leonard Bernstein he wrote for a project with saxophonist Joe Lovano.

In summation, Peter Malinverni’s many careers began as coordinator and head of Jazz Studies at Purchase College Conservatory of Music, State University of New York. He also performed as pianist/conductor at the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York and as Director of Music at Pound Ridge, New York Community Church.

Karl Stark, in the Philadelphia Enquirer said, “Pete Malinverni is one wild cat, his playing can be dark, gritty and oddly rapturous … he digs into the piano and emerges with exotic treasure”. And, Jim Macnie in the Village Voice, called him audacious and exquisite”. I found a quote from him that wraps it up …”music must be treated as a sacred gift, to be passed on freely to fellow musicians and listeners with passionate control.”

Contact Norma Higgs by email at niahigg@aol.com.