In the event you hear about José André Montaño performing wherever in D.C., you’ll want to be in that room.
Largely self-taught, he began enjoying piano at age 4. Now at age 18 and a rising senior on the Duke Ellington College of the Arts, Montaño has carried out in D.C., across the U.S. and in a number of international locations. The truth that Montaño is blind has not interfered along with his drive to proceed growing his music expertise at a hard-driving tempo.
I noticed Montaño lead his trio a few months in the past at Taste Backyard, a restaurant within the Van Ness space of Northwest, D.C. His trio included drummer Lenny Robinson and bassist Grant Lay.
“It was enjoyable to play with these cats,” mentioned Montaño. “We performed the primary set as the home band, then different musicians got here via. A few of my mates from college had been there.”
Calling fellow musicians “cats” or “bros” is widespread when Montaño talks about collaborating with artists.
He’s snug with musicians of any age.
The Love of Jazz
Montaño is involved in a number of genres of music, however what drew him to jazz?
“Properly, once I was a bit of child, I listened to numerous Miles Davis, particularly the tune ‘So What.’ I’ve liked jazz since then,” Montaño mentioned. “I like the sensation of it and how one can work together and play what’s in your coronary heart. It’s a style to specific your self and improvise.”
With college and jazz gigs, Montaño has a busy schedule. Final yr, he carried out on the U.S. Division of Training with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (HHIJ) Peer-to-Peer Group. The scholars had been joined by U.S. Secretary of Training Dr. Miguel Cardona, who performed bongos with the group.
This yr, Montaño turned a proper member of the HHIJ Peer-to-Peer Program. As a member of the 2023 sextet, Montaño and his highschool bandmates traveled to Richmond, Williamsburg, and Charlottesville, Virginia acting at excessive colleges, and discussing jazz with native college students. A live performance at D.C.’s historic Blues Alley wrapped up this yr’s tour.
The Peer-to-Peer program is headed by JB Dyas, Ph.D., vp for Training and Curriculum Growth at HHIJ. He met Montaño final yr when he performed with college students who carried out with Cardona.
“José is an angel. He’s an instance of whenever you’re given a set of circumstances, you’ve got a call to make,” Dyas mentioned. “That call is to take that set of circumstances and shine or to permit your self to be encumbered by it. Properly, he’s shining vivid.”
Carnegie Corridor and a European Tour
This summer time, Montaño is within the prestigious NYO Jazz program. This jazz intensive is part of the historic Carnegie Corridor, the place 22 younger musicians ages 16–19 from throughout the U.S. are led by Inventive Director Sean Jones.
Jones, a trumpeter and an educator at The John Hopkins College’s Peabody Institute in Baltimore, just lately labored with Montaño as a mentor for this yr’s HHJI Peer-to-Peer Sextet. This week the group is in live performance at Carnegie Corridor with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, a Nationwide Endowment for the Arts Jazz Grasp. NYO Jazz and Bridgewater will then tour Europe acting at a number of jazz festivals.
Montaño is often accompanied by one or each of his mother and father when he performs. Meaning additionally they hold a busy schedule. Giovanna and Roberto Montaño love seeing their son create magic along with his piano. They’ve been intent to make sure the perfect music educators encompass their son. That’s how they discovered pianist and composer Cyrus Chestnut who turned their son’s mentor.
Chestnut can be on the school at Howard College as a grasp teacher in jazz piano and improvisation. He started working with Montaño in 2014.
Like everybody else who has encountered Montaño, Chestnut used the phrase “superb” a number of occasions when describing his mentee. He described how Montaño can take heed to a bit of music and play it again with astonishing accuracy.
“He has an insane ear. He can course of issues in a method that could be very particular,” Chestnut mentioned about his mentee. “He’s an excellent human being. In a short while, the entire world will be capable to expertise that brilliance.”