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Fordham came to New York City in 1949 at the suggestion of her friend,William Kapell, to study classical music with his first teacher, Dorothea Anderson La Follette,and then to the Juilliard to study with Rosina Lhevine(briefly) Beverige Webster,and Josef Raieff...then privately with Ania Dorfman and Robert Goldsand.
It is interesting to note that Goldsand's teachers can be traced directly to Franz Liszt. Goldsand passed down Liszt's superb fingering for double thirds to some of his favorits disciples, Fordham included.
To pay her expenses,she joined the Hatcheck Girls Union and worked as such at the Embers in New York,after being hired to work at the famous Birdland on Broadway, named after Charlie Parker, the Saxophone Legend.
She was "discovered" while practising one afternoon on the Embers superb Steinway Concert"B"Grand Piano by Walter Winchell,NY Columnist, and became famous in the 50's and 60's as Suezenne, the "Cinderella Girl," as Winchell called her in his column, also Irv Kupcinet, Kilgallen, and virtually all columnists and newspsper writers,and music critics in NY, Chicago and Miami.Was written up by Leonard Feather for playing Bach Fugues in a prominant Jazz club(Embers)in Dowmbeat magazine.She was signed and toured extensively for Jos Glaser's Associated Booking Corp.the top agency at the time.
Written about daily in the gossip columns. Played on Radio and TV shows such as Jack Paar's show out of New York in the 1950's. Joined the Merchant Marines in order to tour the Caribbean with her group the "Suezenne Fordham Trio" for several years aboard the S.S. Brazil.She studied Jazz piano with Lennie Tristano, Bill Evans, and at times with George Shearing (he toured a lot)
At the Embers, she played opposite Dorothy Donegan, Red Norvo,Joey Bushkin, George Shearing (with Cal Tjader, Toots Thielmans,Kenny Clarke,John Levy,)Errol Garner, Barbara Carroll,Artie Shaw,Tal Farlow,Alex Kallao,and Johnny Smith at the Embers in New York City ,and opposite Count Basie and Mort Sahl at the Sahara in Las Vegas, also the Haymarket at the Conrad Hilton in Chicago, the Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale,and Versailles and Fontainbleau in Miami.
She played many years at the Hickory House on 52nd St,NY opposite Marian McPartland,Toshiko Akiyoshi,Juta Hipp,Joe Castro,Billy Taylor and Bobby Scottand played piano and was a Chanteuse at many Park Avenue Hotels, including the Doral,Tuscany, Park Sheraton. (doing NBC's Monitor remote live performances) As Chanteuse, she sang in English. German, French and Italian.
Due to her superior piano tecnic, she was sought out by Gerry Mulligan, Milt Jackson Teddy Charles, and Cal Tjader(among others) for coaching.She was friends with many of Jazzdom's greatest.At that time, NY was a tight knit famly of "in" players, and she always encouraged her friends to accomplish more through positive energy and setting examples with her own highest standards, inspiring higher levels of artistic accomplishment in all who knew her.This still holds true.
Under contract to Columbia Records in the 50's with her famous bassist [Richard Davis].She unknowingly signed a recording contract which was renewed every year but never recorded due to the recording company wanting to keep her out of competition with their star Dave Grushin.She eventually was able to disencumber herself from Columbia(Epic).
Her drummers included Ray Mosca, Roger Wanderscheid,Bud Neeley and others. She also studied vibes privately with Milt Jackson and Teddy Charles.At times her bassist was Teddy Kotik, (Parker's Bassist.
In the late 60's-70's she formed two new progressive jazz groups, "Third Eye" and "70" with Bill Folwell,Bass; Bob Fritz,Electric Clarinet;and Ray Manning.Drums and percussion.
In Los Angeles in 2002, Fordham created Suezenne Fordham Chamber Jazz in Historic Sites Series "The Art of the Chamber Jazz Piano Trio."
The group plays Jazz Fusion, Avant Garde,with Bartok and Messian influences.She plays Steinway Piano, Percussion, Melodian, Chakra Bowls,Singing Bowls and Gongs.(Tibetan Percussion )Drummer is Darren Ross,who is a Jazz virtuoso has been with the Trio since it's inception;and Supra talented Noah Garabedian is Contrabassist for their Series. replacing Roberto Miranda.There are around 20 concerts per season.
It is their commitment to evolving new and exciting sounds that propel the Trio into vast new areas, sometimes adding Jazz Tuba Player Bill Roper, who is a superb Jazz player Avant Gardist.(think French Horn, not um pah pah!!)
She is the recent recipient of the distinguished EIS Award for composing and promoting the Equal Interval System by Spud Murphy, and realised by MXMitacek, and includes compositions by two of her mentors, Bobby Bradford, and MXMITACEK. The Trio has just been inducted into Chamber Music America, and looks forward to a long and fruitful relationship,involving extensive composing and expanding their number of seasonal concerts.