About composer, accordionist, and pianist Jeremiah McLane…
The music of composer, accordionist, and pianist Jeremiah McLane is a unique blend of Franco-American, Celtic, jazz, and roots influenced music that is at once exuberant and introspective, tender and passionate. He places familiar sounds in unusual settings, and combines a gift of improvisation with a keen appreciation for the power of melody.
The early years
I was raised in a large family with deep connections to the state of New Hampshire (my great-grandfather was governor from 1905-1907) and to traditional music (there was contra dancing in my father’s family home in Manchester for over 75 years). In our family we listened to many different kinds of music: Edith Piaf, Ragtime, Harry Belafonte, The Beatles, Eric Satie, Jimi Hendrix, Bach, Beethoven, etc. My mother played piano, and my father sang. Songs and music making were a regular feature of family gatherings. I started on clarinet when I was nine and then switched to piano at eleven. I had classical lessons but also learned to play boogie-woogie and blues from my older siblings.
Early on I was influenced by the music of Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, and other blues artists. As a teenager I was introduced to the music of Miles Davis, Les McCann, Bill Evans, Bud Powell, John Coltrane, and other jazz greats. I went to Oberlin Conservatory where I studied classical and jazz piano, then transferred to the Cornish Institute in Seattle and studied with Gary Peacock. I also studied Indonesian Gamelan, West African drumming, and the music of minimalist composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass.
In 1980 I started studying Celtic music and began playing the accordion. My major influences at that time were the Bothy Band and Dedanann. I started playing in Celtic bands and studied with Chicago accordionist Jimmy Keane and Cape Breton pianist Doug McPhee. In the early 1990s I helped start two bands with strong traditional New England roots: The Clayfoot Strutters and Nightingale, both of which are active today. Nightingale has recorded three CDs and tours regularly throughout the US. In 2003 I formed Le Bon Vent, a sextet specializing in Breton and French music.
Learning and teaching
In 2001 I attended the New England Conservatory of Music and got a Master’s of Music in Contemporary Improvisation. In 2005 I started the Floating Bridge Music School, where I teach traditional and contemporary music. I am a faculty member at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, NY, and also teach at various summer music camps including Ashokan Fiddle & Dance, Augusta Heritage Arts Center and Centrum’s American Festival of Fiddle Tunes.
Since 1990, I have recorded 9 CDs: three with Nightingale, one each with the Clayfoot Strutters, Ruthie Dornfeld and Le Bon Vent, and three solo CDs. My second solo recording, Smile When You’re Ready, was nominated by National Public Radio in their “favorite picks” of 1996. Hummingbird, with Ruthie Dornfeld, received the French music magazine “Trad Mag” Bravo award for 2003, as did Le Bon Vent’s Goodnight Marc Chagall in 2006. I have composed music for theatre and film, including Sam Shepard’s “A Lie Of The Mind”, and been awarded the Ontario Center For The Performing Arts “Meet The Composer” Award, and the Vermont Council On The Arts “Creation Of New Work” grant.