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 put aside his acting ambitions and began a long career in radio, working at WNEW throughout the 60's.
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(who my uncle Hal had drummed with in the 50's) and the other greats of Jazz.
In 1974 I picked up the nickname Jez from a guitarist named Dixie.
I also learned to meditate which gave me the focus to practice and learn as much as possible. 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, Tommy Mars
Ball Of Confusion played in Lenox at The Music Inn keeping crowds dancing with their funk/rock fusion sound. I also began leading The Jez Graham Quartet who played some memorable gigs at Alice's Restaurant at Avaloch.
Another move was in store in 1975 when another radio station(KSAN) in San Francisco came into our life.
I finished my senior year at Berkeley High School while studying jazz piano with Art Lande. Through Art I began studying composition with W.A. Mathieu. More study took place in the years 76-78 including North Indian Flute with G.Sachdev, and singing with Pandit Pran Nath and Terry Riley.
After one semester at Evergreen College I played a memorable show with The Fleetwoods and Nokie Edwards of The Ventures before heading to L.A. where my Mom had re-located.
In L.A. I played an assortment of dues paying gigs that gave me the experience I will always be grateful for. After a tour of Japan with R+B group Between The Two, I kicked around town playing with everyone from Elvis impersonators to a stint as house pianist at The Comedy Store playing on and off such comics as Jim Carey, Richard Pryor, Howie Mandel, Sam Kinison, and my favorite 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 sessions for my unreleased Pop album which featured the Rubinoos on background vocals on several songs and Tommy on Guitar.
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 nothing pleases me more than jamming with Bill and Janna or just hearing them practice through the walls of our Stone Mountain home.
Since coming to Atlanta I have enjoyed gigging around town and have continued to write and record.
I released my first official CD in 94 and have released 5 other titles.
I also began my life as a Unity musician under the direction of Don Discenza at Unity North.
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 which received national airplay.
99-I joined Del Baroni's On The Air and 8 piece band specializing in Sinatra. Del and I also work as a Duo.
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.
04- Pianist/Music Director at Unity/Rockdale.
Recorded my unreleased CD tribute to the music of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys.
O7/08 found me re-releasing my cd's and introducing them into the digital download universe as well as writing new songs and enjoying my job as a pianist for hire, playing in assorted trio's in Atlanta's finest Hotels and Restaraunt's including The Intercontinental Hotel, The St. Regis Hotel,C and S Seafood,Atlantic Seafood,Cinco,and Ray's On The River
08/09- I was honored to play the Ga. State Jazz piano summit with the legendary Johnny Knapp. Began a ongoing collaboration with David Marksthe legendary guitarist who is a founding member of The Beach Boys.
Played gigs in Atlanta and Charlotte with David Marks and The Summertime Blues Band. 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.It is available on itunes. 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.
In June of 2012 we returned to Unity of Rockdale where I served as music director until December 2017.
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 country- recorded in studio sessions in Atlanta 2012.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. The Holiday Hootenany in Dec. 2014 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.
2015 and 2016 have been time for intense focus and rediscovery of practicing the piano. No recordings were done other than session work. I have been working at home on my piano and have recently began a series of solo piano/vocal video's for my youtube channel. The songs are a combination of my originals as well as my favorite covers. 2015 and 2016 have also found me continuing to write songs along with my wife Mindy for our Sunday services at Unity East of Atlanta. I also played some of my most memorable gigs withFrancine Reed, topped by a performance in Aspen for Jazz Aspen Snowmass. I have been blessed by many years as a working musician and I will continue to play the piano for as long as I live.
2017 has been a time for me to explore musical expression in new way's in my quest to bring healing and unity to my surroundings and to myself. This began in 2015 with my solo performances at Plymouth Harbor which were expanded at times to include the family band along with special friends. I continue to play for the folks at Plymoth Harbor and have moved into playing selected dates at Hospice Atlanta. It's hard to put into words how deep these experiences are. I feel energized every time and will be doing much more of this musical expression going forward. I have enjoyed playing memorable gigs throughout 2016 and 2017 with the wonderful Jazz vocalist and Atlanta Treasure Theresa Hightower.
In 2018 I enjoyed some creative and fulfilling gigs with drummer Adam Wolfe and continued playing with dear friends Gwen Hughes and Mike Hinton in a variety of projects. I'm also proud to be a part of this fine album by Miami Dan and The Hayes Street Band-Left Hand To The Sky.
I fully embraced my return to full time solo piano work 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. We hope to do it again next summer.
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.