Born in Hoboken in 1992 and based in the greater-NYC area his entire life, jazz pianist David Zaks has subsequently built an impressive resume of high-profile collaborations as well as international performances.
Intrigued by the piano since the age of seven, David spent his teenage years heavily immersed in classical piano studies with acclaimed Russian-Ukrainian piano pedagogue Erna Savchenko at Michael Thomopolous’ Palisades School of Music in Fort Lee, NJ. In between classical recitals and competitions (not to mention the usual high school busywork) he recorded and performed in a trio with fellow youngsters bassist Daryl Johns and drummer Robin Baytas (both currently very active on the NYC music scene with their own projects). In addition to all this performing activity were intensive and character-shaping studies with some of the finest musicians on the planet: Mike LeDonne, Mark Gross, Geri Allen, Billy Hart, Don Braden, Michele Rosewoman, Mike Lee, and Valery Ponamarev, among others. High school ended on a high note after David won the Downbeat Magazine Student Arrangement Award for Chick Corea’s “Windows.” Corea was so impressed by David’s arrangement of his classic tune that he requested to meet David backstage after one of his performances at the Blue Note.
Arriving at William Paterson University’s prestigious jazz program on a full scholarship a few months later, where he studied with jazz piano legends Mulgrew Miller and Harold Mabern, David soon found himself in a whole new world of exciting, creative characters and influences. He essentially spent the several next couple of years of his life either listening to various styles of music for 15 hours a day, playing jazz standards with bass and drums for four hours at a time on NYC subway platforms, jazzifying old gospel tunes with a wailing trombone section at the Lower East Side’s Bowery Mission, or staying up til the wee small hours of the morning reading, watching documentaries, or playing music.
In recent times David has performed domestically and internationally with some of the finest jazz musicians in the world. This list of luminaries includes JD Allen, Bill Easley, Winard Harper, Don Hahn, Mark Gross, Kenyatta Beasley, Duane Eubanks, John Mosca, Warren Vache, Dave Schnitter, Rich Perry, Gene Perla, Carrie Jackson, Cynthia Holiday, Steve LaSpina, Mark Johnson, Mike Lee, Oscar Feldman, Bill Mobley, Bill Goodwin, Mike Lee, Jerome Jennings, and Tatiana Eva-Marie, among others. He has performed with these artists at top-notch venues such as Smoke Jazz Club, Mezzrow, Mintons Playhouse, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Carnegie Hall, Bergen Performing Arts Center, Shanghai Jazz Restaurant, Fat Cat, JZ Jazz Club (Hangzhou, China), and the ITC Grand Chola (Chennai, India).
David is currently busy working on a solo piano album, set to be released in 2020.