Rio Rio Clemente, “Bishop of Jazz” returns to The Watchung Arts Center on February 9, 2019 at 8 p.m. with a Valentine tribute from The American Songbook. The concert features vocalist Stephen Fuller, Marty Eigen on saxophone, Alex Gressel on bass and drummer, Vernon J Mobley. The show will be followed by a dessert reception with the opportunity to meet the performers.
A native of Morristown, NJ, Rio is a member of its Hall of Fame. He has been named Professional Artist of the Year by the Arts Council of the Morris Area, New Jersey Monthly Magazine named him among its “Top 40 New Jerseyans” and the New Jersey Jazz Society named him Musician of the Year.
Rio’s career began with a BMI scholarship for musical theatre and subsequent studies at Juilliard School of Music. A grant from Broadway Tomorrow for new composers followed. Along with his classical training, Rio developed a style embracing a diversity of music that makes him one of the most expressive and versatile pianists anywhere. After several television appearances, Rio advanced professionally to playing at several distinguished concert halls and festivals, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, Manhattan’s famous Birdland and the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel, as well as the Newport and JVC Jazz Festivals. Rio also performed at the White House representing the United States Coast Guard and all Auxiliaries. He regularly appears with groups such as The Morris Choral Society and Orchestra and at jazz venues from Manhattan to Cape Code and from Florida to California.
Rio has recorded for well-known labels and has published twenty CDs under his own label, Etnemelc Music Productions. Rio in collaboration with Carmine Lombardo has written a number of selections ranging from gospel to Latin, including orchestral arrangements. A children song was nominated for a Grammy and this past October his original musical “VIZHON” had its world premiere performance in Florida. As a music educator, and teacher, he has served as music director for the Generations of Jazz program of the New Jersey Jazz Society, and has presented customized programs in schools, including Viva La Musica Latina with the late percussionist Russ Moy.
Anyone who has listened to Rio Clemente play piano, comes away in awe. This master pianist mixes a strong classical background with a rich knowledge of jazz history, then adds an amazing sense of creativity and interpretation intertwined with classical themes. The result is music that is different from others, and nearly always produces a standing ovation and cries for “more.” When reviewers stumble for words to describe his work, it’s because words fail to convey the rich depth of character, nimble facility of play and ease with which his music is crafted and performed.
Tickets are $18 in advance, $22 ($20 WAC members, $10 students) at the door. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Watchung Arts Center Office or by mail. Include an email address or phone number with mail orders. Tickets may also be purchased online at watchungartscenter.eventbrite.com.
The Watchung Arts Center, located at 18 Stirling Road in Watchung on the Watchung Circle, is a multi-disciplinary arts facility serving Watchung, the surrounding communities and the Tri-State Area. To obtain more information about upcoming performances, classes and workshops, and monthly art exhibitions, please visit WatchungArts.org or call 908-753-0190.