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Max Perkoff: Reviews & Media Kit

Amazing Space

Father-son Jazz Musicians Share “Amazing Space”

[words in brackets are my corrections. - Max]

Trombonist and pianist Max Perkoff grew up in a house of music. [His parents] can remember eating breakfast with jazz legend Thelonious Monk and his wife, Nellie. He can remember sneaking into hip San Francisco jazz nightclubs with his father, pianist Si Perkoff, before he was of legal age. Most of all, he remembers how his father’s music, and the music of artists such as Jelly Roll Morton, Herbie Hancock and Red Garland, encouraged him [to] pursue his own artistic life.

Today, Max and Si Perkoff both live in Mill Valley. And though they spend much of their time touring and performing at venues throughout Marin and the state, they still find time to play side by side and share their passion for jazz. [In December, 2005] the two released their fourth recording together. The album, “Amazing Space,” features Max on trombone and piano and Si on piano, playing swinging bebop, ballads, originals, and a four-hand boogie-woogie duet, which Si taught Max as a child.

“Jazz has many branches on its family tree,” said max. “Among these are the Marsalises of New Orleans, the Jones’ of Michegan, and the Perkoff family of San Francisco.” The album’s title song, “Amazing Space,” is one of Si’s originals and describes the close connection he shares with Max. Max said the other songs on the album were chosen because they evoke memories of experiences the two have shared in 23 years of playing and recording jazz. “It’s been wonderful,” said Max. “If you separate the fact that he’s my dad, he’s outstanding, you always know it’s going to be good when you play with him. He has a wide repertoire and great ability. Musically, it’s very satisfying.”

Since the early 1960’s, Si has been a performing jazz pianist [in the SF Bay Area], beginning with two years as one of the house pianist[s] at the legendary Bop City Club in [San Francisco]. After marrying visual artist Sara Goren, Si, now in his late 60s, settled into life in San Francisco, playing at the city’s hot jazz spots and in Marin venues like Sausalito’s late, lamented Gatsby’s. The couple later moved to Mill Valley so they could raise Max outside of the concrete confines of downtown San Francisco.

While living in Marin, Max has been the leader of combos featuring [sidemen such as bassist Sam Bevan, with David Grisman in 2000]. [Si] has toured as the keyboardist [and musical director] with the musical “Hair,” taught university and private music classes and played as the sideman in groups that included national jazz stars Art Pepper, Buddy Collette, Pepper Adams, Frank Rehak, Julien Priester and Harry “Sweets” Edison.

While Si had achieved musical success before Max had graduated from middle school, Max said he was always eager to catch up. “I got to be on the inside of the whole music world,” said Max. “All these national musicians were in and out of the house from the time I was a kid and I loved it.”

One day before his eighth birthday, Max begged for piano lessons from his parents, who, though pleased Max was interested in the arts, wanted to make sure he wasn’t doing it just to follow in his father’s footsteps. Si and goren finally consented and Max began his own musical journey. “I had been asking for lessons for more than a year,” said Max. “When I finally started, both my parents were totally supportive. I knew by the time I was 13 that I was going to be a professional musician and that’s what I’ve focused on ever since.”

Max and Si started jamming together at home just for fun when Max was young, but it wasn’t long until Si was sneaking Max, who says he looked old for 16, into bars and restaurants, where they would often take to the stage. Max went on to take lessons in trombone and eventually pursued a musical degree from Indiana University’s school of music in 1985. He’s since become a reputable musician in his own right, working as a music teacher, substituting as lead trombonist for the late jazz great Sonny costanza, playing piano at New York City’s Angry Squire and La Mama, and performing at festivals throughout the states.

Max Said that while music has been one of the defining factors in his relationship with his father, the two don’t necessarily talk about the great role that music plays in their lives. “He’s supportive of me playing,” said Max. “There’s no jealousy either way and at the end of the day, he’s my dad.”

Angelica Marden, editor - Mill Valley Herald (Feb 27, 2006)