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Student Spotlight

Lucas Hahn, Pianist

Interview by Denise Lee

Meet Lucas Hahn, second year pianist for the Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band. Lucas is a high school sophomore at Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School and is pursuing his dream of ‘going pro’ as a pianist in all the right ways.

Lucas began studying jazz piano seven years ago with local educator, Robert Mahoney, and classical piano three years ago with Ivan Rosenblum.  He continually reaches out to professional musicians for instruction and has studied such luminaries as Taylor Eigsti, Geoff Keezer, Jeff Ballard, and Pascal Le Boeuf. He has attended Stanford Jazz Workshop for the last two summers and was accepted into the Jazz School High School Summer Intensive last year.

Lucas has already recorded two of his own CDs. He cut his first one with the Bebop band when he was twelve. More recently, he’s released “Child of Kuumbwa” with his own eponymous trio (Lucas on piano, Dan Robbins on bass, and Jake Shandling on drums). To think that he has accomplished all of this, and he is only fourteen years old!

We chatted with him briefly.
1. What have you learned from your experiences in the recording studio? Do you have any other recording plans? I learned that I was more nervous in the recording studio than when I was performing in front of an audience, which I didn’t anticipate. The first time, it was difficult to play as creatively as I did in a live setting, because I was worried about missing notes and held everything back. However, Dan Robbins gave me some great advice; he said, “When you’re performing for an audience, play a little bit like you would in a recording studio. When you’re in a recording studio, play a little bit like you’re performing.” I may be recording some solo piano tracks as a demo in the near future, but other than that I don’t have anything planned.

2. What are some of your favorite shows that you attended at Kuumbwa?
One of the first shows I attended at Kuumbwa was Taylor Eigsti in 2010. Seeing Taylor really inspired me. I was not that serious before, but after watching him perform I was inspired to work harder at it.

3. What jazz player would you most like to have dinner with?
Of musicians that are living, Herbie Hancock. I would want to learn a lot from him. He played with Miles Davis, and is so influential in creating the modern jazz that we listen to now.

Of musicians no longer living, Charlie Parker. Not only was he super knowledgeable about music, but I’ve also heard that he was interesting too. He knew a lot about the world and politics.

4. How has playing in the Kuumbwa Honor Band helped you?
It’s been super great being able to play with great musicians every week, and to get feedback on my playing. Eddie Mendenhall is super knowledgeable and he can hone in on everyone’s playing and let’s you know what’s going on. Great to rehearse at the Kuumbwa, have a great piano there. It’s really nice.

5. What’s on your playlist this week?
There’s been a lot of new stuff coming out right now. Pianist Kris Bowers’s Heros + Misfits is super good. Anton Schwartz’s Flash Mob is good. He just played Kuumbwa, and my teacher, Taylor Eigsti, plays on this album. Lee Morgan’s The Last Session is good. I had a workshop with Harold Mabern who played on this CD, and learned a lot from him. Mehliana: Taming the Dragon is good. Brad Mehldau on piano is one the most influential pianists in the past twenty years.

6. Has your experience playing jazz influenced your thoughts on where you might like to attend college?
Yes. I’m a sophomore now, so I’m beginning to think about it. I want to be a professional musician. I can go either the conservatory route or the academic route. If I go the  conservatory route I’d like to go to the Manhattan School of Music or Juilliard. I definitely want to be in NYC. It would be a great way to meet a lot of new players.

If I go the academic route, I’d like to go to Stanford or Columbia. I could get a degree in business or economics. That way there could be a fallback. This would probably make you a more well-rounded person.

7. What other things do you like to do?
I really love music. I love playing, listening to, and talking about music. Most of my time is spent studying or playing music. I also like playing sports, biking, hanging out with people, and watching the Santa Cruz Warriors!

Photo Credit: r.r.jones

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