Daniela Schachter grew up in a small town near Sicily. There was always music in her apartment, she says, because her father was a professional pianist, and her mother liked to sing. She eventually told her father she wanted to take piano lessons, which proved to be a wise investment.
By the time she was a teenager, she was performing in public and leading a jazz band. But her big break came in 1999 when, at age 27, she won a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Then, in 2005, she won the prestigious Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition, which caught the attention of the legendary pianist Marian McPartland, who invited Schachter to be a guest on her NPR Piano Jazz radio program.
As the curator of the Luna Stage's "Music in the Moonlight" Sunday night jazz series, I have been focusing on booking musicians from our nearby communities of West Orange, South Orange, Maplewood and Montclair. But when Daniela sent me a link to her appearance on Piano Jazz, and I heard her play, I decided we could expand a little and include an artist from Union County (She lives in Linden).
Schachter told McPartland she began thinking about adding singing to her repertoire while accompanying jazz vocalists. "I started helping them find the right notes and decided to take some singing lessons." Her selection of music usually encompasses original compositions and popular American standards, and on Sunday, February 10, at Luna, she will be focusing on the music and lyrics of Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. During her Piano Jazz appearance, she and McPartland played a duet of Burke and Van Heusen's "It Could Happen to You". Other selections on February 10 could include such standards as "Moonlight Becomes You", "Polka Dots and Moonbeams", "Here's That Rainy Day" (my favorite) and "Swingin' on a Star" from the 1944 Bing Crosby-Barry Fitzgerald movie classic, Going My Way.
"I just play and sing music I like," Schachter told McPartland. And it's clear her audiences and critics like what she plays and sings. Allaboutjazz.com calls her a "beautifully talented composer and pianist with an important touch and suave mature voice." The Washington Post describes her piano playing as "fluid improvisation with a soulful touch." And, as for her singing, the Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta del Sud, predicts that "she might be the new Diana Krall."
Join us on Sunday, February 10, at 7 p.m., as the Luna Stage "Music in the the Moonlight" series presents the Daniela Schachter Quartet with Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone, Steve LaSpina on bass and George Schuller on drums. To order tickets, log onto www.lunastage.org or call (973) 395-5551. The Luna Stage is located at 555 Valley Road in the Valley Arts District of West Orange.