Dorothy Axelrod was born in Long Island, New York, and at an early age, the family moved to Southern California. She was drawn to the piano when she was 10 years old. As a birthday gift, her parents took her to the Hollywood Bowl to see legendary piano man, Liberace. Mesmerized by his performance, a deep flame was sparked within her that still burns strong today.
Soon after that visit to the Hollywood Bowl, she began piano lessons in the San Fernando Valley. For many years, Dorothy and her mother would travel by city bus from Reseda to Canoga Park for her private lessons. As a teenager, she continued her piano lessons in North Hollywood, concentrating on Improvisational Jazz. From playing in the high school jazz band, she went on to studying music at Cal State Los Angeles. As she progressed in her jazz studies, Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner were her main influence.
Dorothy had studied under the prominent Jazz and Big Band arranger Stan Sheldon, working on musical arrangements for the Tonight Show and The Broadway musical "Evita".
From the beginning of her music career, Dorothy has been sharing her gift through teaching piano to people of all ages. “The longer I teach the more rewarding it is in my life,” Dorothy says. Her passion for piano is grounded in the individualism of the art. “I feel fortunate that I am able to express the love and emotions I feel when playing beautiful music, and the regalement of improvising an up tempo tune,” she says.
As a result, Dorothy’s talent for improvisation has gained her a reputation in the music industry and especially among her students. Dorothy does not just teach her students how to play the notes on a page, but instead encourages students to make every song their own. Dorothy’s zeal for improv even drove her to write a book that she uses in her teaching and one day hopes to publish so it can benefit students of piano everywhere.
Dorothy regularly performs with her trio” Jazz Plus”, that includes local Southern California Musicians, Gary Whitesides on the drums and Rafael Estrada on Bass. The trio offers one of Southern California’s most unique musical experiences perfect for dancing or just enjoying the sounds of the group’s one-of-a-kind style.
The release of Dorothy’s debut album, Somewhere in Romance is the culmination of a life-long dream and a successful music career. “I love performing with my jazz group and doing solo gigs, but I have always wanted to record a solo piano album, playing some of my favorite romantic standards. I named this album over 10 years ago,” Dorothy says.
In contrast to the genre she’s most known for, Dorothy reached beyond her jazz roots to record the softer side of the art of piano; the recording is a compilation of Dorothy’s unique expressive style, playing solo piano arrangements of 14 beautiful romantic ballads.
Dorothy’s love for the piano emanates in her music and transcends listeners into her own world of inspiration, warmth, and romance. “When I am playing a song, my mind transforms the beauty and meaning from my heart through my fingers.
“My wish is that this music touches you in a very special way,” Dorothy says.