Francesca Tanksley

Associate Professor
617 747-3103

"Respecting the person, the unique direction in which [students] want to go, and their all-around potential, are most important. In this atmosphere, students find a safe environment in which to further explore their own musical voice, while continuing to hone their technique. And the result, they tell me, is real interest and dedication."

"Billy Harper, one of my bandleaders, creates for each of his band members a space in which we feel encouraged to blossom—to reach as far as possible, at times even beyond our conscious awareness, into what we can do. I can't think of any better musical environment than that. And that is what I try to offer my students: spaces inside which they can find out who they are."

"What I like most about teaching, aside from the usual self-satisfaction that I think every teacher gets from a student improving, is the satisfaction of seeing in that student's face and body language a certain dignity in their self-regard as an artist. When I see that they have not only learned the information, but have also found a real connection to their true musical selves, that is extra special to me."

"I'm not talking about arrogance here; I'm talking about real trust in our own artistic authority. When we can find a balance between self-confidence and an understanding that music is always sovereign, there's no problem with arrogance. Music—specifically the music that's inspiring us in the present moment—comes first. We're second in command."

Career Highlights

 

  • M.M., Queens College
  • Studied piano with Sir Roland Hanna, Franz Liszt piano technique with Harry Jensen, and jazz composition with Jimmy Heath
  • Leader of the Francesca Tanksley Trio
  • Steady pianist with the Billy Harper Quintet, the Erica Lindsay Quartet, Howard Johnson’s Hojo5, and the Jeff "Siege" Siegel Quartet; past pianist with legendary trombonist/composer Melba Liston
  • Past pianist, with commissions for compositions and arrangements, for vocalist Laurel Massé (founding member of Manhattan Transfer)
  • Performances with Nick Brignola, Jay Clayton, Charles Davis, Slide Hampton, Clifford Jordan, Sheila Jordan, Melba Liston, David Newman, Cecil Payne, Diane Reeves, and others
  • Recordings with the Billy Harper Quintet, the Blue Jade Trio, the Erica Lindsay Quintet, the Francesca Tanksley Trio, the Jeff "Siege" Siegel Quartet, and Marian McPartland
  • Concerts and tours throughout Europe, the Near East, Scandinavia, South America, East and Southeast Asia, and the United States, including Carnegie Hall, Kool/JVC Jazz Festivals, U.S. State Department tours, North Sea Jazz Festival, and others
  • Featured guest on Marian McPartland’s NPR program Piano Jazz and the documentary Women in Jazz by Burrill Crohn, and noted in American Women in Jazz by Sally Plaxin and Madam Jazz, by Leslie Gourse
  • Recipient of the ASCAP Louis Armstrong Composers’ Scholarship Award and the Eubie Blake Foundation Award