Harold Danko is well recognized from long-term associations with impressive jazz legends including Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Lee Konitz and Woody Herman, in performances at major jazz venues throughout the world as well as on recordings, television and video. During the last two decades he has become increasingly known as a band leader, composer, and solo pianist, and is well documented in those capacities on more than thirty CDs on the SteepleChase and SunnySide labels.
As a leader he has been featured at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center’s “Meet the Artist” series, Washington DC Performing Arts Society series at J.F.K. Center, and numerous jazz festivals both in the USA and abroad. Throughout the 1990’s he performed with and composed for his quartet with Rich Perry (tenor saxophone), Scott Colley (bass) and Jeff Hirshfield (drums), and in 1995 received an NEA Fellowship to perform his own works in a series of concerts in New York City. More recently he has led a trio with Hirshfield and Michael Formanek or Jay Anderson (bass) in addition to adapting many of his compositions for solo piano performance. He recently returned from a professional leave of absence in the fall of 2011, during which he taught and performed in Taiwan, Italy, and Switzerland, in addition to work on two new recording projects. His latest trio CD, released in 2012, is “Unriched” on SteepleChase.
Professor Danko has been on the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, since 1998 and served as Jazz Studies Chair from 2002 – 2011. Prior to his appointment at Eastman he served on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, the New School/Mannes, Hartt College, and other institutions. Beginning his piano studies at the age of five, Harold became serious about pursuing a career in jazz at the age of fifteen when he commenced studies with Gene Rush in Youngstown, Ohio. After graduation from Youngstown State University and a stint in the U.S. Army band, Harold landed the piano chair in Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, which launched his career as a much sought after jazz musician. He also developed a reputation as a respected jazz educator in New York City and throughout the world.
Currently at Eastman he teaches jazz piano, directs the Jazz Performance Workshops, and heads the Eastman Jazz Trio, and Quartet. The group released their first CD in 2003 and continues to perform in the region. In addition to his own educational video, Jazz Keyboard Techniques, available only in Brazil, he can be seen and heard on video performances with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, and Lee Konitz. Harold’s featured column, “Solo Piano”, appeared in Keyboard Magazine for more than five years, and his keyboard improvisation method, the Illustrated Keyboard Series, is a widely used reference work. In 2007 he received a Bridging Fellowship to do research in University of Rochester Linguistics Department on the relationship of speech and music, and continues to advise students who are pursuing this line of research. Harold has won ASCAP awards yearly since the early 80’s for the value of his catalog of original compositions.