John Nilsen

John Nilsen

Pianist and recording artist John Nilsen plans solo piano concerts Saturday, Nov. 1, in Shady Cove, Gold Hill and Talent. Nilsen has just returned from a tour that began Oct. 16 in Baltimore.

Long a fixture in instrumental music, Nilsen will present his melodic, intelligent compositions that meld folk, jazz and classical traditions at the shows. Nilsen has sold more than 700,000 CDs and toured throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Formerly a Rogue Valley resident, he now lives in West Linn.

Nilsen graduated from then-Southern Oregon State College in 1979. In 1987 he founded the Magic Wing recording label, which today has a catalog of numerous titles.

Guitarist Guthrie Thomas launched Nilsen's career by inviting him to record on his Eagle Records label in Ashland. Over the years, Nilsen has appeared with Jose Feliciano, Jesse Colin Young, Kenny G, Alex De Grassi, David Foster and others.

In concert, Nilsen is known for exploring the boundaries of his compositions.

"The entire performance hinges on the connection not only between the players, but with the audience as well," he says in a press release.

He has performed at the Britt Festivals in Jacksonville, the Craterian Theater in Medford and Southern Oregon University's Recital Hall many times. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Southern Oregon University.

Nilsen's newest CD, "John Nilsen and Swimfish," is a collection of folk-rock songs recorded with a band that Nilsen formed a couple of years ago.

"It's entirely different from everything that's been released during my career," Nilsen says. "I'm playing guitars and singing on all of the tracks."

Nilsen wrote all of the songs for the CD. Dan Peek, an early member of the rock band America, called the CD "superb, the lyrics inspired and the production and arranging top-notch. The songwriting hangs together well and the tracks flow, carving out a groove as natural as a river carves a canyon."

Nilsen also is working on a new album to be released next year.

Here's a schedule of Nilsen's Saturday shows:

Noon — Talent United Methodist Church, Talent. Call 535-9014.

3 p.m. — Upper Rogue United Methodist Church, 18977 Highway 62, Shady Cove. Call 878-2793.

5 p.m. — Gold Hill United Methodist Church, Fourth Avenue and Fourth Street, Gold Hill. Call 855-7224.

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