I was born James Edward Granowsky in Binghamton New York Jan.30th 1959 to Jerry and Judy. I have an older brother named Jeff. I became Jimmy Graham in 1960 when my Dad who at the time was working on a local T.V. show as Captain Jerry host of the Popeye show changed our last name. Soon he moved the family to New York City where he began a long career in radio and T.V.
I developed an ear for music that was soon nurtured by my Aunt Bee Walker(writer of "Hey Jealous Lover" recorded by Frank Sinatra) and by other family members. I remember the joy of sitting around the piano playing and singing from a very early age. My musical education was also informed by the sounds and sights of the times, including regular visits to The Fillmore East, Broadway Shows and of course Marx Brothers revivals, in fact my earliest musical influences are Chico and Harpo Marx.
In 1970 we moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts where my Dad started a radio station (WGRG) that played a vast variety of music that influenced my eclectic taste in music.
At age 12 I began studying Jazz piano with Mike Schiffer who taught me all about Monk, Miles, Bird, Tristano, and the other pioneers of Jazz.
In 1974 I picked up the nickname Jez and also learned to meditate. Soon I was playing in a band called Ball Of Confusion with Drummer Kenny Aronoff and Guitarist Bob Williams. I learned a great deal from these guys as well as from other local players like Ed Mann,John Sauer, and Tommy Mars.
After relocating to the west coast, I finished my senior year at Berkeley High School and began studying jazz piano with Art Lande. Through Art I began studying with W.A. Mathieu and soon began Indian music classes with G.Sachdev, Pandit Pran Nath, and Terry Riley.
After one semester at Evergreen College where I studied Electronic music, I played a memorable show with The Fleetwoods and Nokie Edwards of The Ventures before heading moving to L.A. where I joined the group Between The Two for a tour of Japan on Roller Skates. After the disco era, I kicked around town playing with everyone from Elvis impersonators to a stint as house pianist at The Comedy Store playing comics on and off. Some of the comics I had the opportunity to play for included Jim Carey, Richard Pryor, Howie Mandel, Sam Kinison, Garry Shandling, and Fred Asparagus. I also jammed with some great musicians like Shuggie Otis, Blackbird McKnight, Derek (Waldo) Roberts, and Terry Bozzio.
In 81/82 I co-led the New Wave Power Pop groups Section 8 with David Steinberg, and The Now with Bobby Robles. I also played in The Legendary Ladies of Rock And Roll show with Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector, and Martha Reeves.
I began a duo gig with Michol Sullivan at The Marquis and a beautiful girl came up and asked if we could play "In My Life". It was love at first site. Mindy and I were married Dec.30th 1983.
That same year I had a great time playing and singing in the backup band for The Honeys. I played the L.A. club circuit with them and appeared in their video Running Away From Love.
In 85/86 I worked a lot with Tommy Dunbar of the Bay Area Pop group The Rubinoos. 2 of the songs we co-wrote can be heard on The Rubinoos "Garage Sale". Tommy also produced,and played on sessions for my "Pop Dream" album.
It was my pleasure in these years to play a house gig in Monterey Park Ca. with Lee Van Stone, at Skippy's Golden Gopher where Johnny Miller Bassist for The Original Nat King Cole Trio had come out of retirement to play.
In the first week of Oct. 87 I realized a dream by auditioning for Frank Zappa. Though I did not get the gig, I learned so much that week and will never forget dinner with F.Z.
In Feb 88 Mindy gave birth to our first child and we decided to get a fresh start in Atlanta.
In 92 our second child was born. Both kids are fine musicians and more importanly good people.
I released my first official CD in 94 and have released 5 other titles.
In 95 I began accompanying the amazing vocalist Francine Reed who is well known for her work with Lyle Lovett.
97-97 -The Trio with Ramon Pooser, Mike Hinton, and myself played 4 nights a week at The Martini Club and recorded the CD "Thursday."
99-I joined Del Baroni's On The Air and 8 piece band specializing in Sinatra. Del and I also worked as a Duo for many years.
99/00-Played and recorded with Rita Graham(no relation) who was used to sing with Ray Charles and Harry James.
2000/01- Jez Graham and The Combination released 2 CD's and appeared at The Atlanta Jazz Festival.
The group Featured-Sam Skelton,Bob Lewis,Ken Gregory,Gary Land, and Mike Hinton
02/03 The new Trio with Bill Hatcher and Joel Morris released the CD "Monday" and played Mondays at Sambuca for a couple years.
Recorded my unreleased CD tribute to the music of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys.
08/09- I was honored to play the Ga. State Jazz piano summit with the legendary Johnny Knapp which began a long and deep friendship that lasted until Johnny's passing in 2018.
08/10- I began a ongoing collaboration with David Marksthe legendary guitarist who is a founding member of The Beach Boys.
We also did a very special recording project jamming on classic Beach Boys songs with an improvisational twist at East/West Studios(formerly Western Studios) in Hollywood called David Marks and Friends Live on Sunset
Played on and produced a Francine Reed downloadable single of a song co-written with Stephen Kalinich called "Surrender." It features David Marks on Guitar.
Recorded my Christmas song "Lets Make Every Day Like Christmas" which was released on the side bmusic holiday cd,-Rockin the Mistletoe. The cd features another collaboration with Stephen Kalinich that also features Probyn Gregory of Brian Wilson's band on French Horn.
Reformed The Trio to become the Sunday house band at The Family Dog Atlanta.
Recorded a live Francine Reed album with The Jez Graham Trio at Eddies Attic which was released in 2012.
I was honored to play with Francine and The Trio along with the Dekalb Symphony Orchestra along with Janna Graham on percussion in a very special concert on Jan.14th 2014. We played special arrangments of Surrender and Stevie Wonder's "Loves In Need Of Love Today." I was also honored to play with Francine at her induction into the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame where she sang a couple of songs including "Surrender."
2014 saw the Cd release of the new Col. Bruce Hampton album "Pharoah's Kitchen" on Ropeadope Records which features the new music we played across the countr. .I am honored to have co-written half of the album with Col. Bruce as well as contributing musically on piano, electric piano,bass, electric sitar and vocals, and contributing my song with Stephen Kalinich "Surrender". One of my favorites is a country song we co-wrote with Billy Bob Thornton. Here it is- Dot Dot Dot You never know who might turn up at a Col. Bruce show and in 2011,12,13, and 14 we were joined onstage by such musicians as Paul Barrere, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Lew Soloff, David Marks, Nels Cline, Kofi Burbridge, Stanton Moore, Bonnie Bramlett, and Randell Bramlett among others.
2014 saw the fruition of our family band 3 out of 4. We debuted songs from my final cd Lovebrain 2 at Eddie Owen presents The Red Clay Theater.
2014 ended but the creative roll kept going.Dec. 2014's Holiday Hootenany brought together the biggest Col. Hampton group yet with a horn section, 3 drummers, and a cast too big to mention.
California Feeling 2 was released in early 2016. I am on the David Marks track Anytime U.S.A. playing organ and the song which was written by David and Stephen Kalinich also features Dennis Dikken on Drums and Alan Boyd on harmonies.
In 2017 and 2018 I fully embraced my return to full time solo piano work culminating in my position as one of the pianists on Concourse A@Hartsfield Jackson Airport and I've never been happier. for a sample setlist click here.
I was thrilled to get the Graham Family Band back together for a special gig in eary July 2018. The year ended with another exciting and most fulfilling ongoing creative project, working in the studio with team Puddles Pity Party. I added keyboards to tracks for his Holiday CD and show including his version of my song "Let's Make Everday Like Christmas."
The last day of the year the song that I wrote with Stephen Kalinich for Francine Reed "Surrender" was performed by her and The Joe Gransden Big Band feauturing The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. What an honor and a great way to end the 2018.
2019 has been my most musically fulfilling year yet. Every day I go to play a the airport I am smiling on the way in as well as after the gig. it's a special thing to experience the positive effects music has on people. Meanwhile I've ramped up my archival release project and now both of my Trio albums are online with other projects dear to my heart on the way including "Freedom Parkway" and "The Double Album." I played on some fulfilling sessions and concerts this year as well and look forward to more collaboration in 2020.
Bill Graham-Graham Family Band Reunion July 6th 2018
Janna Graham-Graham Family Band reunion July 6th 2018
Enjoy Each Leaf (2011 version) Played and Produced by 3 out of 4