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John Halsey grew up in Fairfield Connecticut, where his education-minded parents saw to it that he received piano lessons (classical) and other cultural "enrichments." As a teenager he rebelled against all that, plunging into the popular music of the day, playing ragtime, blues and vintage jazz by ear. At Williams College in the 1950s he worked in a student band, performing at concerts and fraternity parties all over New England and the Mid Atlantic states, plus Spring Break in Bermuda and a summer tour of Europe  with a college all star ensemble. As John S. Wilson of the New York Times wrote, "He majored in Dixieland Jazz." After military service John did graduate work at Columbia University, earning an M.A. and Ed.D. in philosophy of education. During this period his musical activities were at first limited to weekends, but there were so many opportunities to play professionally that, by the 1970s, realizing that music was his true calling, John became a full time player, developing his skills through extensive study with private teachers and courses at the Juilliard, Manhattan and Mannes schools. Please visit Instruction and Coaching link.

Since that time, Mr. Halsey has been actively engaged in the NYC area, frequently in demand as a solo pianist, accompanist to vocalists, or as leader of his own combo. Out of town work has taken him to jazz festivals and cruise ships as well as concerts with the Williams Reunion Jazz Band. Please visit Performance Highlights link for full listings. When not out gigging, John can be found teaching jazz history and the American songbook at the New School University, or coaching piano students and vocalists.

Performed With

  • Cab Calloway
  • Wild Bill Davison
  • Jimmy McPartland
  • Max Kaminsky
  • Barbara Lea
  • Maxine Sullivan
  • Woody Allen

Club List

  • Red Blazer Too
  • Eddie Condon's
  • Jimmy Ryans
  • Birdland
  • Cleopatra's Needle
  • Swing 46