Bernie Senensky

Bernie (Bernard Melvyn) Senensky. Pianist, composer, b Winnipeg 31 Dec 1944. He began piano studies at 9 with Clara Pearlman and was guided in jazz at 17 by Bob Erlendson. After playing 1962-6 in Winnipeg and Edmonton nightclubs and crossing Canada in a series of hotel engagements, he settled in 1968 in Toronto. There he became one of the city's leading jazz pianists, valued especially as an accompanist fluent in a wide range of styles. He has played in local clubs (Bourbon Street, East 85th, Top O' the Senator, etc) for such US jazzmen as George Coleman, Buddy DeFranco, Art Farmer, Frank Morgan, Art Pepper, Red Rodney, Zoot Sims, Joe Williams, and Phil Woods. He joined the Moe Koffman Quintet in 1979, playing synthesizer in addition to piano, and contributing extensively to its repertoire. He also has worked frequently with Peter Appleyard and in 1989 performed in Europe with the largely-US bands of Buddy DeFranco, Herbie Mann, and Terry Gibbs.

Senensky's own groups, from trios to septets, all in a contemporary idiom, have appeared in clubs and at festivals in Toronto and elsewhere, showcasing the pianist as an assertive player whose resourceful, post-bop style is remarkable for its crisp, melodic detailing on one hand and broad, sweeping momentum on the other. His best-known composition is Lolito's Theme, which has been recorded by DeFranco, Rodney, and Don (W.) Thompson. Several Senensky tunes have been recorded by the Koffman quintet (eg, Fall, Re-Run, Fun, One is Enough) and individual pieces have appeared on albums by Rodney (No Jive Line), Eugene Amaro (Jade Eyes), Ed Bickert (Together), and Arlene Smith (In My Life). Other Senensky tunes of note include New Life Blues, Don't Look Back, One Never Knows, and Pepper's Gone.