By Colin Foster
Jai Jeffryes’ life kind of resembles the Johnny Cash song “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
Jeffryes ability to play piano has taken him all over the world — to places like Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and all over the United States. He’s worked on Broadway productions, along with countless other big projects.
Yet, throughout all of his travels and endeavors, Jeffryes’ heart has remained in Troy, the town he grew up in. The Troy High School graduate is honoring his hometown and the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center — a place he has performed at all of his life — with the release of his first solo classical album titled “Hayner Resounding.”
“The concept for CD was all about paying tribute to Hayner and paying tribute to the hometown community,” Jeffryes said. “This is really the culmination to a very personal project — and I’m thrilled to be performing this concert and kicking off this CD, to which I express my thanks to Hayner and Troy, Ohio.”
The album features music from Schubert and Debussy. Jeffryes said it took him almost a year in the studio to complete album.
“I spent a lot of time in the studio,” he said. “I repeated recording sessions to improve on the results I was getting. Each time I would go in the studio, if I was dissatisfied with what I had done, I would go back to practicing and make my next studio session what I wanted … I think it would be fair to say that producing a CD taught me more than earning my masters degree.”
Jeffryes musical interest came from his father, James, who was the first band director at Miami East and composed the fight song that the school still uses to this day. James was at East for 17 years and went on to teach music at Covington Elementary School. James, now retired, also played clarinet in the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra for 30 years.
James began teaching Jai how to play the piano when he was 5 years old, before Jeffryes began studying with Barbara Wasson of Dayton. Jeffryes would go on to attend Arizona State University, where he studied under James Ruccolo. Later, he completed his graduate studies at Texas Christian University with Steven De Groote, a gold medalist of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. After receiving his formal education, Jeffryes relocated to New York City.
Jeffryes musical life spans show business, classical music and accompanying. He served as musical director and orchestral keyboardist for musical theatrical productions and conducted shows in Berlin, Paris and Tokyo. Additionally, he worked with Broadway touring companies that appeared all throughout North America, Europe and Japan — including productions of “A Chorus Line,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “Annie Get Your Gun.”
Currently, Jeffryes works full-time as vice president and a database administrator for Hudson Insurance Group. He also interviews other pianists for NewYorkPianist.com, which features pianists who perform, work, teach and study in New York City. He and his wife Jan La Salle (Jeffryes) reside in New York City.
“Hayner Resounding” was just released in December. It will be available at Hayner and at the Little Professor Bookstore. The album will be sold for $13 at the concert. Additionally, it is available now on Jeffryes’ website, www.jeffryes.net, as a CD or download. It is also available on Amazon and iTunes. Jeffryes can be followed on Twitter @PnoJai. He also has a YouTube page (www.youtube.com/user/jaijeffryes) and a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/jaijeffryes).
Jeffryes CD release concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center.
For more information about the upcoming event, visit www.troyhayner.org.
Colin Foster may be reached at 937-440-5208 or followed on Twitter @colinfosterbg or @Troydailynews