Pianist, composer, and arranger Gene Knific is the recipient of four ASCAP Young Jazz Composers awards and 8 Down Beat Magazine Music Awards for his performances and compositions in jazz and contemporary categories.
An active composer in both jazz and chamber music settings, he recently had his work Relapse performed and recorded by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. His latest work won sponsorship from the Ravinia Steans Music Institute and was performed by a combined string quartet and jazz piano trio at the 2018 Ravinia Festival in Chicago where he will take part in a week-long residency. The work, entitled Septet, was be premiered by top jazz musicians from New York and the Avalon String Quartet, who are in residence at Northwestern University. Last fall, his Concerto for Violoncello and Chamber String Orchestra was premiered at the University of Oaklahoma. Earlier in 2016, Knific was commissioned to write ten Great American Songbook arrangements for the Merling Trio. This year, Knific arranged a short J.S. Bach composition and also composed an original composition for the Merling Trio to perform at the Kalamazoo Bach Festival.
In 2015, Knific was invited to participate in the American Composer’s Orchestra Jazz Composers Orchestra Intensive at UCLA directed by James Newton and Derek Bermel. While in university, Knific had his works rehearsed by Dave Douglas, Mark O'Connor, and Terrence Blanchard. He wrote a work for big band performed and recorded featuring rock icon Steve Miller and had three crossover works commissioned by the Stamps Foundation Distinguished Ensembles in Miami. In addition, he won a reading by members of the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by James Feddeck at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. This year, Knific released a self-produced documentary sponsored in part by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Knific’s work as an arranger has brought him to write for multiple orchestral recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios in London, where he is currently helping to oversee a large scale progressive rock album by lead guitarist of the award winning band Syzygy, Carl Baldassarre. This project has led Knific to work directly with legendary British conductor, composer, and arranger Rick Wentworth, and Sweetwater Production’s director of music production Mark Hornsby.
Knific has performed all over the world with an extensive and diverse repertoire. Recent highlights include performances with saxophone legend Joe Lovano in 2014, Macarthur Genius Grant recipient Miguel Zenón, and three performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. with the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program. His talents have brought him on tours to Russia at The St. Petersburg Conservatory and Jazz Philharmonic, the Copenhagen Opera House and Montmartre Jazzhus in Denmark, the Xiquitsi International Music Festival in Mozambique, and The Schlern International Music Festival in Italy
He leads an adventurous group, The Gene Knific Trio, dedicated to original works while uniquely exploring classical and modern genres. The Gene Knific Trio kicked off the Fontana Chamber Arts Summer Series in 2014, and is a staple at the annual Elkhart Jazz Festival. In 2015, Knific was one of 24 participants selected internationally to perform at the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. directed by Jason Moran. Gene has also performed in trio/quartet settings with Kevin Mahogany, Roseanne Vitro, Kate Reid, Bobby Shew and is the pianist of the touring/recording ensemble, The Tom Knific Quartet.
Knific recently graduated with highest honors from the University of Miami Frost School of Music with degrees in jazz performance and composition, where he studied with Shelly Berg, Martin Bejerano, Lansing McLoskey, and Terence Blanchard.