PROFILE: MIKE LIPSKIN
For many years local jazz fans and those from remote parts of the United States and Europe have come to San Francisco's night spots and concert venues to hear jazz pianist Mike Lipskin perform sparkling musical gems in the Harlem Stride jazz piano style. Very few contemporary jazz pianists can play Harlem Stride, the sound of Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Duke Ellington, and Art Tatum. Mike is one of these exceedingly rare pianists and has even created his own stride sound and composes new pieces in this vibrant full jazz piano sound--some of which can be heard on his recordings for Buskirk Productions and Downtown Records.
He's played Carnegie Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, 92nd Street "Y" and Newport Jazz Festival and appeared in the jazz documentary film, "A Great Day In Harlem," devoted to the legendary Esquire Magazine 1958 NY jazz photo session. He suppling rare photos he shot when age 15 for the film and a book of the same subject, which he co-edited.
Lipskin co-produced and appears in a PBS documentary on Willie The Lion Smith airing on TV around the nation, and was music director for and performed in five SF JAZZ "Stride Summit" concerts at San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall, and Masonic Auditorium, from 1988 through 2004. He’s performed with Woody Allen and Dick Hyman in New York City and had a 23 concert European tour in conjunction with his first release on the Swiss label, Downtown Records. Lipskin has seven recordings to his credit, the last two with Dinah Lee, a wonderful jazz vocalist.
Born in New York, Mike first fell in love with Waller records when he was 4 years old and was hooked on the style from then on. By the time he was in high school he was traveling to Harlem, learning from the remaining Stride masters such as Willie The Lion Smith, Luckey Roberts, Cliff Johnson, and the amazing Donald Lambert.
During his last years in high school and his four at Bard College, New York, Mike made archive recordings of the remaining Stride figures. Trying to interest record companies in issuing these tapes led to a position as producer at RCA Records, New York, when Mike was 21. During his 13 years there he produced historical reissues for the Vintage Series, developed engineering skills and worked on a widely acclaimed analogue technical process for rehabilitation of ancient recordings. He also produced new albums by artists such as Lighthouse, Gil Evans, Blue Mitchell, Cedar Walton, Lonnie Liston Smith, Roger Troy and Ryo Kawasaki
He practices entertainment, trade mark, real estate and civil litigation law in San Francisco.
Dinah Lee has been singing great jazz songs for over 20 years, first in Arizona with The River Boat ramblers, The Notables, and Swing Time, and Her Men Of Note. Born in Ohio, she showed signs of musical sensitivity when very young and by second grade was taking piano lessons. She brings her own special sound to the Great American Songbook, giving unique performances of the wonderful repertoire of George Gerswhin, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porte, and Duke Ellington, to name but a few. The legendary record producer Jerry Wexler says that Dinah has her own stamp and is very inspiring. In 2003 she moved to the San Francisco area to team up with Mike Lipskin, and has recorded two CDs with him.