The Jazz Exchange
The gorgeous piano that opens “Inipi” and flows into the soul of “Master Midnight,” “Smile At Me” and “Fancy Pants” belongs to Jean Prosper — pianist, composer, arranger, and protégé of the great Oscar Peterson, one of jazz piano’s most renowned natural resources.
Jean Prosper was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, where his father was a famous Haitian evangelist who insisted that his children listen to classical and sacred music. However, beyond the walls of the family home, the rhythms of the Haitian people reverberated everywhere―they were inescapable. The drumming and singing he would hear in the middle of the night had a major impact on his musical development.
Eventually his family immigrated to Montreal, Canada, where Jean received keyboard training and his music education at Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music, in Montreal. He also went to a private school, Kingsway College, in Oshawa, Ontario, where as a choir member, he traveled across Canada and parts of the U.S. and performed major choral works twice a year with the Oshawa Symphony Orchestra. While studying in Oshawa, Jean won first prize at the Kiwanis Piano Competition. Later, after moving to the United States, Jean studied piano at Andrews University and at Indiana University.
During his time in Montreal, a friend took Jean to meet her next-door neighbor, who was a piano teacher that happened to be the sister of Oscar Peterson. Until that time, Jean had no idea who Peterson was…so he went to find some of the jazz legend’s records, which, for Jean, turned out to be a life-changing revelation.
And while Jazz became his primary focus and passion, Jean performs other genres of music spanning the classical to gospel repertoires. (Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Brahms and Beethoven are among his favorite composers.)He has performed for thousands on concert stages; in churches, parks, clubs, and people’s homes; and at restaurants, schools, wineries, arts centers, weddings, funerals, museums, and jazz festivals. In 1999, he garnered a prestigious Stellar Award nomination for his recording Getting Up Morning.
An artist of choice for the distinguished Mendel Performing Arts Center of Benton Harbor, Michigan, Jean has been called upon to perform as reception entertainment for such world renowned artists as Ramsey Lewis and Lou Rawls.Jean has had the great honor of being requested to perform for the “champ,” Muhammad Ali…not once but twice!
A perpetual student of music and of life, Jean Prosper believes that knowledge should not be accumulated, that you should start each day in a state of unknowing because each day is a new experience. He also believes that artists do not exist for the ego’s sake, but that they are there to remind others that they have a heart and a soul. His greatest satisfaction is seeing the smiles that his music brings to people’s faces.
In May of 2005, Jean Prosper founded a non-profit organization called The Jazz Exchange. Its mission is to preserve jazz music as an art form by providing exposure and education to the youth and community as well as cultural exchange. It is their belief that in order for this art form to survive, it is crucial that we involve today’s youth not only as musicians…but as an informed audience as well.
Jean currently resides in Orlando, Florida, where he performs regularly.