Dennis Lichtman is a multi-instrumentalist (mainly clarinet, mandolin, and violin) who is deeply entrenched in the early era of jazz and its permeation into other American genres from its inception to the present day. Dennis is originally from Boston, MA and has been living, performing, composing, and teaching in New York City since 2002.
Lichtman celebrated the release of his most recent jazz clarinet album, Just Cross the River, with two sold-out shows at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz At Lincoln Center hosted by the New York Hot Jazz Festival. The album features nine original compositions inspired by the migration of jazz legends into the borough of Queens, NY beginning in the 1920’s. Two of the compositions appeared in the HBO miniseries The Plot Against America in April 2020. The project was instigated by a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts, and the original compositions were debuted at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens.
Since 2007, Lichtman has been the clarinetist and bandleader of the famed Tuesday night traditional-jazz jam session at Mona's in downtown New York, which was profiled in the New York Times, and has been described by the Wall Street Journal as "ground zero for an emerging late-night scene of young swing and traditional jazz players.” December 2012 saw the release of Tuesdays At Mona’s, a 19-minute documentary about the Mona’s session produced by Hi-Tide Films, accompanied by a live compact disc of Mona’s Hot Four with 19 guest musicians.
Lichtman switches deftly between fiddle, clarinet, and mandolin while leading his western swing sextet, The Brain Cloud, through a broad array of American music including original compositions and new arrangements of old songs. The Brain Cloud, featuring vocalist Tamar Korn, has held a Monday night residency at the prestigious-yet-intimate Brooklyn venue Barbès since 2011. The band’s third full-length release, Live At Barbès, was released in April 2017.
Lichtman has performed at Carnegie Hall, major festivals throughout the United States, and on stages in Europe, Brazil, and China. He is on the faculty of the Welbourne Traditional Jazz Camp in Middleburg, VA, and has led college master classes and school workshops through the Midori Foundation, Lincoln Center’s Meet The Artist Series, and Beijing’s Ping-Pong Productions. He has performed and recorded as a regular member of The Lovestruck Balladeers, Ghost Train Orchestra, Pokey LaFarge Band, Nation Beat, Jim Kweskin Band, and many more.
Photo credit: Aidan Grant