“Frank Zappa said to me: ‘You’re the one in the trenches. You’re doing the real work!’” For David Esleck, that work includes performing, composing, producing and educating. Appearing as a multi-instrumentalist early in his career, he soon chose to focus on the piano - “That’s challenge enough!” He now appears frequently in concerts and recitals, both as a piano soloist and with his jazz trio. Esleck’s recordings are first round Grammy Award and Indie award nominees, and he has performed for ,and with, Presidents, heads of state, CEO’s, Hollywood stars, and musical figures like The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Tony Bennett. His jazz trio’s new recording is to be released in 2010 on the Yes Yes Records label.
Esleck’s compositions, both jazz and classical, are heard in concerts, films, and television. A trained composer, Esleck holds Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in the discipline from Tennessee Technological University, The University of Virginia, and The Catholic University of America, where his teachers have included Robert Jager, Aaron Copland, Walter Ross, and Judith Shatin. Jazz bands, children’s choirs, orchestras and soloists have performed Esleck’s music; it was recently featured in the PBS documentary “Tuba U,” on the career of legendary music educator Winston Morris.
The variety of styles and genres present in Esleck’s compositions is also reflected in the diversity of artists with whom he has done production work. Esleck has served as record producer for a wide variety of clients, working with 21st century composers, classical performers, Nashville-bound singers, rock and roll artists, and everything in between.
Esleck’s dedication to the art of music is equaled by his commitment to music education. He is currently celebrating 10 years of working with the students at the University of Richmond, where he teaches jazz performance, jazz history, and jazz piano, in addition to courses in the more traditional fields of music history, theory, and piano performance. Before coming to UofR, he was head of the jazz/ commercial music degree program at Virginia Union University. He has also taught at the University of Virginia, Longwood University, and Randolph-Macon University. In addition to the great rewards of educating university students, Esleck still finds time to work with students of all ages, from young children to seniors. He has an active studio of private students, and his recent graduates are playing at the University of Virginia, Princeton University, and on stages around the country.