Dr Mark Polishook

Course Director

Mark’s passion for jazz and improvisation began as a teenager living across the river from New York City. During those formative years he heard, saw, and was inspired by pianists such as Erroll Garner, Thelonious Monk, Earl Hines, Eubie Blake, Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Rowles, Derek Smith, and others.


Mark teachers in jazz included Floyd Williams, Tony Aless, Jaki Byard, Marian McPartland, Harold Danko, Charlie Banacos, Jimmy Guiffre, Ernie Wilkens, and George Russell. After graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music, Mark performed as the leader of his own groups, as a solo pianist, and with well-known jazz artists, including Cassandra Wilson, Eddie Gomez, Richard Davis, Ted Curson, Winard Harper, and Little Jimmy Scott. In 1990, Mark competed in the First International Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano Competition.


Among Mark’s composition projects is his chamber opera he and the award-winning documentarian Andrea Weiss transformed during their arts residency at the Banff Centre in Canada into an internationally-recognised award-winning film. Mark was artist-in-residence for a year at Aarhus University in its computer science department. The residency culminated with his Robots-in-Residence installation, a prize-winner in the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition. Mark also taught electronic music composition at the Cracow Academy of Music where he spent a semester as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer. That experience led in turn, to performances over several years in the International Audio Art Festival in Cracow.


In 2010, Mark, with his family, emigrated from America to the UK. Since then, he’s focused exclusively on the art of improvising as a solo pianist. Mark recently released It’s About Time, a two-disc recording of a solo concert in the US. He’s planned a follow-up recording for next summer after he returns to the UK from a five-month stay in Shanghai. There, he’ll be presenting concerts and master classes on improvisation.


Mark has a doctorate in classical composition and masters’ degrees in composition, theory, and jazz. Before emigrating to the UK, he directed the music composition and theory programs at Central Washington University in the United States. Prior to that he taught jazz piano at several other universities in America.


Mark teaches locally in Leicester and worldwide over Skype. Janet, his wife, is the Academic and Programme Director in the Museum Studies program at Leicester University. Their two children are attending universities in America.

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