Jazz writer John Gilbert has called Lenore "Simply one of the best pianists in our art form...she always swings."
Critics have used words like "swinging", "emotional" and "artistically subtle" when describing Lenore's playing.
A Steinway Artist, these days Lenore is performing in major international jazz festivals and jazz clubs such as the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, The S.S. Oosterdam Floating Jazz Festival, The International Association for Jazz Convention (Toronto), Ronnis Scott's in London, Jazz At Lincoln Center and many more. She is also busy with jazz workshops and Master Classes around the world. In addition, she now has her own radio show called "Lenore Raphael's JazzSpot" that features guest artists chatting and performing with her in an hour-long show on www.purejazzradio.org. Lenore is also a member of the Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc.
How did you start out as a musician? I don't think it was a conscious decision to be a musician. I think that music chose me. Walking up to the piano and playing at age 3 by ear seemed as natural as breathing. It was just something I could do easily and just copied everything I heard by ear. I remember as a child that, at night, the music was in the room, not in my head. I heard entire symphonies as if the musicians were right there with me. I guess I was just born as a musician.
Who where some of your first musical influences? I was lucky to be born into a musical family. My grandfather played "Live from the Metropolitan Opera" every Saturday on the radio, my mother played the violin and sang and my brother played the piano. My brother also played trumpet and brought home all of Clifford Brown's and Maynard Ferguson's albums so it was just natural for me to listen and try to copy what I heard on their recordings.
Bud Powell always intrigued me as well as did Richie Powell...their music sounded so interesting and it was something I could try to copy. The ability to "swing" also came fairly naturally to me...I am not sure where that came from though. I was also lucky to have a wonderful piano teacher who understood that I was probably not suited for classical music because I didn't want to read and play what was written. She was wise enough to suggest that some day I might play jazz.
What is it about your music that you want your audience to understand? Most of all I want the audience to understand how the emotional content of the music affects me personally, but even more than that I am happier when the audience experiences the same emotions that I do when I play. If they are touched or come away with something valuable I feel that I have done my job.
I once played a ballad I wrote dedicated to Chet Baker and someone in the audience was crying...that was one of my most important moments...I had reached someone.
Tell us about some of your most recent music projects? It is most important to me to keep jazz alive...especially the jazz that was created by the originators of the art form so I have created an internet radio program where I interview some of the best musicians who have been playing into their 70's and beyond.
I am also doing a lot of Master Classes with music students who may not know about the music and artists of the 30's and 40's, but to also foster their creativity and allow them the freedom to express themselves emotionally without judgments. I am also working to bring jazz into an area of the country where there is not a lot of jazz heard, so I am creating a jazz series there.
Lastly, I love recording live, so my last two recordings were done live in concert and I will soon be recording another.
What is the one thing that inspires you as a performing artists? When I hear a tune I haven't heard that emotionally appeals to me I am inspired to create a new approach to the tune that perhaps has not been explored before. There is so much great music that was created by composers whose music may not have been heard, so taking one of those and doing something new with it is always inspiring.
At this stage in your music career, how would you describe your inner-musical artistic spirit? It is not just the stage of my career, but also the age and experience I have had in my career that has changed my musical artistic spirit. I am no longer concerned with having great "chops" or being the best and greatest. I would say that I am much more in touch with who I am, which has allowed me to relax and find out more about how to express who I am as a person and an artist.
Looking into the future, what are some significant things you aspire to accomplish as a performing artist? I would love to see the audience at my performances include the younger generation so I will continue to do my jazz for children's projects and the Master Classes with music students. I also would like to continue writing and composing and am now studying arranging so that I might write something for a big band performance. I would also like to record with a larger group than a trio...perhaps saxophone...trumpet.
What is your best advice to young inspiring musicians that want to persue a career as a performing artist? Never give up your dream. It takes persistence, hard work, belief in yourself as a musician and a human being. Learn all you can from the artists who have done it before you. Keep looking into who you are and try to express that in your music. Most of all, do NOT judge yourself in comparison to anyone else. Just express your own unique personality in everything you play...and do.