Get to know jazz pianist Sullivan Fortner

New Orleans native Sullivan Fortner got his start at age 7. By the time he was a teenager, he was well on his way to becoming an accomplished jazz pianist.

Learn more about Sullivan Fortner ahead of his inaugural jazz performance in Purdue Convocations’ continuing presentation of American Pianists Association winners on the recently gifted Steinway D concert grand.

A young star goes to school

Inspired by an organist at his church, Fortner began playing by ear at age 7. By 13, he was attending the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and prestigious summer jazz programs at Vail and Skidmore en route to respective bachelor’s and master’s degrees in jazz performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Manhattan School of Music.

Sullivan Fortner, jazz pianistAfter studying and performing with the Marsalis family, Stefon Harris, Roy Hargrove, and many others, Fortner formed his own quartet and released Aria in 2015 on Impulse! Records – before the age of 30.

Debuts don’t get any better than this.

All About Jazz review of Aria

Broad influences

Fotner’s debut album featured an explosion of influences.  Spanning European classical, Kern-Hammerstein songbook melodies, lively Afro-Cubanism, the Creole jazz of his native Crescent City, Fortner is ushering in a new era of post-bop piano.

Winning performance for the APA 2015 Cole Porter Jazz Fellowship

Listen to the explosiveness of Thelonious Monk’s “I Mean You,” which Fortner performed en route to the APA honor.

Sullivan Fortner performing “I Mean You” with the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. Fortner also collaborated with five-time Grammy® Award-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves during the APA finals.

(Fortner’s) Fundamentals as a player could hardly be stronger, and his instincts as a composer and bandleader are almost startlingly mature.

The New York Times

Sullivan Fortner and Friends at Purdue



Pre-Show Discussion

7PM / Stewart Center, Room 206

Join composer, jazz pianist, and music educator Judd Danby and Don Seybold, host of WBAA’s Inside Jazz, for a discussion about the evening’s performance.