Jazz pianist and composer Nicholas Olynciw (OH-lin-shoo) recently completed his master's degree in jazz performance at Western Michigan University, where he studied with Matthew Fries. Jazz Currents host Keith Hall visits with Olynciw in the Takeda studio at WMUK, where they talked about his Long Island, Texas, and Michigan connections, and Olynciw plays several new solo works: "New Blues," "Associated," "Thermos," "Re-Pete," and "Dream Dancing."
Growing up on Long Island, New York, Olynciw was trained classically, but loved to play and learn jazz with his older brother, bassist Pete Olynciw, and to listen to recordings of Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell and others. He chose the University of North Texas, the first college ever to offer a jazz degree (in 1947), for his undergraduate studies. While studying at Western Michigan University, Olynciw was one of a small number of players invited to participate in JAS Academy, in Aspen Colorado, where he studied with jazz great Christian McBride. In the spring of 2018, Olynciw went to Florida to compete in the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition, where he won the top prize.
Most recently, Olynciw earned a Student Award for Best Jazz Soloist at the Graduate Level from Downbeat magazine. Between May and October, 2019, Olynciw will be resident pianist at the Iroquois Hotel on Mackinac Island.