Steinway 2-Piano Festival 2022

Kirk Lightsey & Benny Green

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Last Show: Saturday 19 th March 2022

PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

Two American jazz greats join forces on UK soil for the first time, each of them making their debut at the PizzaExpress Jazz Club. KIRK LIGHTSEY first made his name with the Chet Baker Quintet in the 1960s, toured with Dexter Gordon in the 1970s and 80s, and was a member of the jazz supergroup The Leaders with Chico Freeman and Lester Bowie. BENNY GREEN emerged from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the late 1980s, whereupon he released a string of critically acclaimed albums on Blue Note, leading his own trio with Christian McBride and Russell Malone among others.


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Benny Green possesses the history of Jazz at his fingertips. Combine mastery of keyboard technique with decades of real world experience playing with no one less than the most celebrated artists of the last half century, and it’s no wonder Green has been hailed as perhaps the most exciting hard-swinging, hard-bop pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

Benny Green, unconditionally, is the bearer of the torch and guardian of a legacy handed down to him, personally, by his musical mentors. His latest recordings -for the Sunnyside label: Happiness! (2017), Live in Santa Cruz (2015) and Magic Beans (2013) are shining examples of his brilliance. Since emerging under the tutelage of Betty Carter, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard and Ray Brown in the early 1980s, Benny Green has become a highly regarded pianist and bandleader. His efforts to expand upon the language of the classical Jazz canon have placed him not only among the best interpreters but also among the vanguard of musicians keeping Jazz’s evolution going.


Born in 1937 in Detroit, Michigan, USA, Lightsey is a gifted modern Jazz pianist who has not yet received the attention his talents deserve, despite a career that has included sessions with some of America’s finest modern Jazz instrumentalists, and a series of enjoyable recordings under his own name.

He began working in Jazz in the mid-50s, largely accompanying vocalists, first in New York and then, in the early 60s, on the west coast. He recorded with the great bebop saxophonist Sonny Stitt in 1965, and began an association with the subtle west coast singer/trumpeter Chet Baker, that resulted in five fine album recordings. At the beginning of the 80s, his career received a boost when he joined the popular saxophonist Dexter Gordon’s band for four years.