Art Resnick

Art Resnick - Pianist,  composer and arranger


Art Resnick studied classical piano but although he continued to compose classical works, he became more focused on jazz. His earliest jazz piano influence was Ahmad Jamal, who he called "a master of form. He would take a common standard and turn it in to something." Then came Bill Evans, John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner as influences he studied. 

As leader, Art recorded "Jungleopolis" in 1972, with Bob Rockwell, Paul Lagos and Willard (Billy) Peterson.  The album was given a five-star review in Downbeat Magazine.

After Jungleopolis, he moved to New York. The quartet “Expedition”,  co-founded by Art and saxophonist  Bob Rockwell with Rufus Reid on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums.  The band played in New York as well as touring in Alaska.

Rufus Reid writes: 

“I remember so vividly the great times we had playing together as the EXPEDITION quartet with Rockwell and drummer Victor Lewis.  Art was an excellent jazz pianist, but in addition, his fantastic compositions gave us our identity.  Going to Alaska and also our time in Australia was very special. Unfortunately, the timing for the success of this group was not good.  We needed to have a recording to represent us, but that never happened, but I will always have these fond memories of Art Resnick and EXPEDITION!  May he rest in peace!”

After listening to Jungleopolis 50 years later, Bob Rockwell called him “a visionary”.

New York gigs became more sparse as demand for Rufus & Victor had them traveling, but the quartet became the backing band for Freddy Hubbard on a one month tour in Australia, where the quartet did an opening set.

Live recording, all orginal tracks by Art Resnick

Soon after, Art moved to Southern California. He began teaching at San Diego State and playing in a club at night, backing guest artists like Charles McPherson, Bobby Shew, John Patitucci. He then played with many others, like Richie Cole, George Coleman and Gary Bartz.

After San Diego, he moved to Paris, France, gradually getting a name in local jazz circles. Art's Parisian trio toured in Spain, and Europe.

In 1983, Art met saxophonist Peter Ponzol, who recalls:

"Our recording, 'Conversations', is one of the most incredible pieces of music I have ever been part of." Ponzol goes on to tell how they met. "A friend invited me to her loft in NYC for a party, "Bring a horn there is going to be a great pianist there". We played a few standards and I sensed that we had the right connections. I asked Art if he liked to play free. So I booked time in a studio that had a great piano and only a few days later we recorded. I was in a sound booth and could barely even see Art. The music is exactly as we recorded. Nothing was discussed. The pieces flowed and ended by themselves. The communication is on another level and I have never experienced anything like it again. People swear that most is composed. “ 

The two also played in Germany and recorded another version of “Conversations” there.

In Paris, Art met a drummer from Portland, who convinced him to check the jazz scene out there. In Portland he met Jeff Johnson and after playing as a trio for some time, they recorded an album of Art’s tunes, “A Gift” with Jeff Johnson and drummer Billy Mintz in 1989. The liner notes say that two of the three originals on the album were written less than one week before they went in the studio. 

Then in 1991, he recorded “My Heart”, led by Jeff Johnson, with John Gross and Billy Mintz. Johnson released the album in 2023, when he learned Art was terminally ill.  From an interview in All About Jazz of "My Heart",  Paul Rauch writes:

"All things aside, Minneapolis was Johnson's primary education, where he learned from such Twin Cities stalwarts as pianist Art Resnick. As both a pianist and composer, Resnick was a deep dive into jazz harmony and ear training for the young bassist, not to mention a meter-bending composer several turns ahead of the compositional curve in jazz. In 1991, the year this session was recorded, Resnick had relocated to Portland, Oregon, while Johnson had settled in just up the coast in Seattle. They had played together for a few years in Los Angeles with intrepid drummer Billy Mintz and influential saxophonist, John Gross."

After listening to the album, UK saxophonist Pete Effamy wrote, “It’s major league playing and writing. It really is. I have listened to a lot of this stuff - most, I find to be a bit boring these days, but this has such sensitive performances from all, that it sits together in a really nice musical way. Respect to them. This has a place in a review by one of the major mags like Downbeat.”

In 2021, Art recorded a song written for him by his brother Randy, entitled "Four You” which includes Pete Effamy on clarinet.

Art passed away on June 26, 2023 at age 82, after a long illness. He wrote over 300 original compositions spanning his long career.

The quotes in this article are from email communications and from an interview by Patty Peterson in Minneapolis.