Since its original release, Jeff Bjorck's debut CD, PURE PIANO PORTRAITS, continues to be a top seller at Amazon.com's Indie Music-New Age-Piano section. It has also received airplay on select radio programs across the country and continues to do so.
As Jeff's first effort, PURE PIANO PORTRAITS features compositions from a wide variety of points along his personal time line. The included selections were all recorded between 1993 and 1995, but their creation spans twenty years. For example, both Can't Say How I Feel and Catskill Mountain Meadow were originally composed in 1977.
Many of the pieces on PORTRAITS emerged in rough form during his days in graduate school, where a baby grand piano in the dormitory across from his office at the University of Delaware provided many welcome study breaks. On one such occasion in 1985, given his preference for spontaneous composition, Jeff brought an inexpensive cassette tape recorder with him. His plan was to "catch anything good that accidentally occurred." The recorder was simply plopped on a pillow on the floor near the piano.
Given the cheap equipment (!), the surprisingly good fidelity of the recordings startled Jeff, and he risked playing his tapes for some friends. It was then that people first mistakenly mistook his music for George Winston's. There are still a few people who are the (proud?) owners of copies of those early tapes!
Formal recording of his earlier work did not begin until 1995, when as part of a small church with many musicians, Jeff was invited to contribute a track to a promotional tape. It was then that he first entered a studio and recorded Living Waters, with much help and moral support from friend and engineer/producer Bill Pearson of Mindseye Productions.
Having experienced the recording studio, Jeff was bitten by the "red light fever" bug, and the idea of recording more of his compositions "for friends and family" inspired him to polish up many of the pieces he had composed since his early teens. Once again with the invaluable assistance of Bill Pearson, Jeff returned to the studio and recorded a variety of works, including each track found on Pure Piano Portraits.
Serendipity does not stop there. Through the continued help of Mr. Pearson, Jeff's music was "discovered" by Gene Michael Productions, a music library whose owner Gene Ort offered to purchase the commercial rights to Jeff's music. Thus, with no promotional effort or legwork of any kind on Jeff's part, the commercially licensable CD, Piano Portraits AV147 was born. (Since then, Panoramas is similarly available as Desert Sky AV231.)
When friends heard this commercial CD, the frequent response was "I'd love a copy of that!" Unfortunately, the required "license" fee to obtain a copy was considerably more than what one pays for the typical CD. Thus, Jeff returned to Gene Ort and requested permission to re-release his music as a retail CD. Gene graciously agreed, and Jeff proceeded to create PURE Piano Portraits.
Jeff comments, "Making a CD was the ideal project for me, because it allowed me to enjoy a variety of my artistic interests all at once. Where else can you pursue graphic design, photography, poetry, creative writing, and music composition, performance, and production....all in the space of a 5.5 inch square?"
The road to producing Pure Piano Portraits was a long and circuitous one, and Jeff clearly sees God's hand in it all. "I am thankful to my listeners who have graciously given me the chance to share my music, and I thank God for making it possible."
As an artist, Jeff Bjorck believes music in its purest form is sometimes the closest thing to art. Not surprisingly, his solo acoustic piano compositions paint a gallery of musical images suitable for framing. These original works interweave delicacy with intensity, combine musical notes with the space between them, and create moving pictures that move the emotions. Dr. Bjorck is somewhat of an expert on emotions. As a clinical psychologist, researcher, and professor at Fuller Seminary's Graduate School of Psychology, his multifaceted vocation typifies his ongoing passion for a Renaissance man's approach to life.
Jeff's nontraditional method of composition has remained basically the same during the past thirty-five years. He sits at the piano, plays spontaneously from the heart, and stops to develop any musical themes that surprise him. He confesses, "Sometimes I feel like a third party, listening to the whole process as an interested observer!"
To Jeff, nature embodies God's ultimate artistic creativity, and it is frequently the subject of his portraits. Born to two artists, he began creating music when he was ten years old. He also loves composing through the media of photography, illustration, painting, and poetry.
In addition to original compositions, Jeff includes original arrangements of traditional hymns on his CDs. He remarks, "My faith and relationship with Jesus Christ provide vision and give my life its meaning. My creativity merely imitates the Creator." He describes his compositions as "quiet music to calm the heart in a noisy world." Listeners apparently agree. His music has provided reassuring focus for mothers in delivery, peaceful rest when insomnia comes knocking, and elegant ambiance at intimate wedding receptions and dinner parties. Jeff also donates his music to Pediatric psychology staff at City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, CA, who have use his CDs as part of their approach to stress management with pediatric cancer patients and their families. He remarks, "It is my hope that I can bring all my listeners emotional music with a classical feel that lifts them from the rat race and gently sets them down in a restful place, as far away from everyday chaos as possible."
When not working or enjoying time with his wife, Sharon, Jeff occasionally likes scaring their two cats with his clarinet renditions of '30s and '40s big band tunes. He also loves to seek creative inspiration for new music by hang gliding high above the mountains of Southern California.