Producer, Pianist / Multi-Keyboardist, Vocalist, Composer,
Arranger, Conductor, Journalist and Pedagogue.
”Al Blatter is a great piano player.”
--Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune--
“Al is one of those rare, energetic performers one must hear AND see.”
--Thierry Becigneul, ONE MORE TIME - Swiss Jazz Monthly--
Al Blatter was an aspiring musician at the age of four, singing with
children’s choirs and first performing on Local Television at the
age of five. Born and raised in Chicago, Al pursued Accordion lessons
continuously from the ages of six thru thirteen.
Beginning High School at St. John’s Military Academy in September 1967, Al continued his Musical development playing / practicing the St. John’s Chapel Piano and Pipe Organ, occasionally accompanying Religious Services while relentlessly learning Blues, Rock, R & B material from records with the Accordion. “I was particularly into the prominent ‘Keyboard Bands,’ The Doors, Santana, ELP, YES and later the ‘Horn Bands,’ Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears and Tower of Power. Al Kooper and Booker T., Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and BB King were all influences at the time, as were the Motown and Atlantic / Stax groups and of course, The Beatles.” In addition, while singing with the Academy Choir, he became the featured performer on both Accordion and Voice during their many TV and Concert performances.
DePAUL UNIVERSITY YEARS (1971-1975)
Attending DePaul University
in September 1971, Al studied Classical Piano and Composition and began
playing with the newly-established 16-Piece Jazz-Stage Band. In addition, he formed his first Band, Flight--an 8-Piece Horn Band--writing all the arrangements, finding bookings, musicians, and playing Hammond B-3 and Fender Rhodes. Flight commenced as a “Cover Band,” and eventually recorded some original material. A prominent Chicago / Midwest Band, Flight was featured on several Local Television Specials while occasionally opening Concerts for Nationally-Renowned Groups such as STYX and The Ides of March before disbanding in June of 1975.
In the Fall of 1979, Al attended Berklee in Boston for a three-week seminar before returning to Chicago to begin recording the LP, “Music My Way” with the noted Chicago Bandleader / Jazz Trumpeter, Bob Perna.
Released in the Spring of 1980, this experience caused Al to re-examine
his conceptions regarding playing, arranging, and bandleading. “Bob
was a tough taskmaster with great ideas, as well as being a wonderful
trumpet player in the Clifford Brown mode. His approach(es) caused me
to re-think and ultimately re-define some of my own ideas at the time.
I also got deeply into Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock.”
MIAMI YEARS (1982-1985)
Al subsequently continued freelancing--both Live and in the
Studio--around the Chicago area until January 1982 when he relocated to
South Florida for about three years. “Upon arriving in Florida, I was introduced by mutual friends, to several prominent South Florida Musicians including Jaco Pastorius, Pianist Alex Darqui, Guitarist Randy Bernsen, and Pans Virtuoso Othello Molineaux. I had the good fortune to meet and play with both Randy Bernsen’s and Othello’s
groups. It was a very uplifting experience--arriving in Florida and
very quickly gigging with these wonderful players. And meeting Jaco was a total gas!”
Al freelanced around South Florida until receiving an opportunity to play on the SS NORWAY Cruiseliner, which would be sailing to Europe after several weeks in the Caribbean. “I decided to accept the NORWAY gig for awhile, experience some new situations and see what developed.” At that time, The NORWAY was the biggest ship in the World with about forty musicians working every evening in some capacity. There was constant movement of venues, changing acts, and assorted Professional responsibilities. “I played all the gigs on that Ship. It was a tremendous challenge and really tightened-up my sight-reading and Show-Playing experience. This was where I began playing with ‘Name’ performers such as Jack Jones, Rita Moreno, Vic Damone, Al Martino, Buddy Greco, and Kay Starr.”
The next Summer, while visiting Europe a second time, Al was engaged in Paris at the BAR MONTPARNASSE PARK HOTEL (Today the HOTEL MERIDIEN) for 2 1/2 Months in September of 1983, before returning to Miami and becoming the Musical Director on the MS SKYWARD (a smaller “Sister Ship” of the NORWAY). While on the SKYWARD, Buddy Greco hired Al as Musical Director after which Al appeared with Buddy Greco in Chicago, Los Angeles (during the ‘84 Olympics), St. Louis, New York, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and did an extensive three-week tour of Great Britain in October of 1984. “Buddy was a very talented Pianist / Vocalist and I learned a lot. But his sporadic touring schedule, along with my every-increasing Professional demands, caused me to eventually move on. It was a most valuable experience.”
CHICAGO YEARS (1985-1993)
Around the Summer of 1985, things got very busy for Al in Chicago. Al began playing with The Bob Stone Big Band on a regular basis. “This was one of the best , hardest-driving Big Bands anywhere. Count Basie loved the Band, as did George Shearing who wrote the liner notes for the Band’s first LP. We also did Concerts with the Four Freshmen and Lionel Hampton.” Al also performed with Diahnn Carroll, The Modernaires and others while touring the Midwest with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.
Also around this time, Al began performing at the prominent Chicago 2-Piano Bistro, YVETTE. “For the next seven years, I developed within this format extensively. It was initially inspired by the 2-Piano Tour (in 1978) of Chick (Corea) and Herbie (Hancock). I was able to perform in the 2-Piano format with many of Chicago’s Jazz, Pop, and ‘Piano-Bar’ Pianists / Vocalists.” Eventually, Al teamed-up with John Redfield and the “Duo- Pianists” became well-known in the Chicago area playing exclusive, specialized Concert venues. Later, they were also featured at the new, downtown 2-Piano Restaurant, CATCH-35 in 1990.
In December of 1991, Al returned to Europe for about three months which resulted in some new career considerations. “I began thinking about re-locating to Europe. I loved the vibe and wanted to explore some potential opportunities there.” After a subsequent two-month return to Europe in May of 1993, Al re-located to Geneva, Switzerland in September of 1993. “It was a decision I reached after much soul-searching. But it was the right--and necessary--direction.”
GENEVA / LAUSANNE YEARS (1993-Present)
Since originally residing in Geneva & now Lausanne, Al has freelanced on Piano and Keyboards with both visiting American and European Artists and Bandleaders. By continuously performing throughout Switzerland, France, Spain, Germany and Italy, Al is well-known as a prominent Pianist / Vocalist, often performing SOLO and with The AL BLATTER Trio. In addition, he has played for many exclusive and private soiree's with The ALBERT MARK Band. Furthermore, Al has been Musical Director for two GAOS Produced Broadway Shows, "High Society" and "Kiss Me Kate". Also, in addition to producing three CD’s, he is increasingly being sought-out as a Producer of other Artist’s CD’s. He is a “Professeur de Jazz” at the International School of Geneva, has been a freelance Jazz Music Journalist, and is preparing to record his fourth CD. “It’s been an incredible experience literally having to “start-over” upon arriving here. Though the journey has often been difficult, I’m realizing my Musical / Artistic Vision. It’s a tremendous challenge, enormously satisfying and a beautiful experience!”