New Orleans pianist Sullivan Fortner is an adept, award-winning jazz musician and composer with a bent toward sophisticated post-bop.
Born in New Orleans in 1986, Fortner first began playing piano around age four. He was playing in church groups by the time he was nine, and at 13 he enrolled in the famed New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). As a teenager Fortner excelled at piano, earning scholarships to both the Vail Jazz Institute and Skidmore Jazz Studies summer programs. Having graduated from both NOCCA and his regular high school (where he was Valedictorian), he perfected his craft by earning a bachelor's degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and, later, a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Fortner has built an impressive list of credits, performing and recording with such luminaries as vibraphonist Stefon Harris, trumpeter Theo Croker, saxophonist Donald Harrison, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and others. In 2015, Fortner won the American Pianists Association Cole Porter Fellowship in Jazz. Also in 2015, he released his debut album as leader, Aria, on Impulse! ~ Matt Collar