New York-based pianist, composer, arranger and educator, Caili O’Doherty (pronounced “KAY-lee” “oh-DOE-er-tee”), is known for integrating structures of language in both her compositions and her approach to improvisation. Her recent music focuses on the celebration, preservation, and expansion upon the achievements of jazz’s unsung women heroes.
Praised by All About Jazz for its “exquisitely forged, dramatic and darkly hued pieces”, O’Doherty’s debut release Padme (2015) uses lyrics to give the melodies a natural rhythm of language. Padme was selected as a Downbeat Magazine Editor’s pick and received a 4-star review in All About Jazz. She was invited to write a Woodshed Article for the Keyboard School section of Downbeat Magazine’s September 2015 issue on the topic “Using Language as a Tool for Composing and Improvising”.
Quarantine Dream (Posi-Tone Records) is the latest release from O’Doherty. It features Tamir Shmerling on bass, Cory Cox on drums, and Nicole Glover on tenor saxophone. Quarantine Dream showcases eight original compositions and three influential songs reinterpreted by O’Doherty. The album release on June 10th, 2022 is followed by a U.S. CD release tour with support from a Jazz Road grant from South Arts.
The Caili O’Doherty Quintet was selected by the U.S. Department of State as one of ten ensembles to participate in the 2022-23 American Music Abroad U.S. State Department tour with plans to visit one to three countries for a 21-day tour.
In 2021, O’Doherty received a Chamber Music America Presenters Consortium for Jazz Grant in partnership with the Harlem Jazz Museum, New Orleans Jazz Museum, and Alabama Women in Jazz Festival to present her newest project, “Caili O’Doherty: Celebrating Lil Hardin Armstrong”, featuring her arrangements of compositions by pianist, composer, and vocalist Lil Hardin Armstrong. This three-part virtual concert series is archived on YouTube and will be later released in 2023 as an album Caili O’Doherty: Celebrating Lil Hardin Armstrong Live from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
O’Doherty has performed with various jazz groups at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smoke Jazz Club (with saxophonist Antonio Hart), Kimmel Center (opening for pianist Martial Solal), Toronto Jazz Festival, Panama Jazz Festival (opening for the Wayne Shorter Quartet), Portland Jazz Festival, Guinness Cork Jazz Festival in Ireland, Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, MICI International Film Festival in Mexico, Stanford Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, and UNESCO First International Jazz Day in Paris, as well as two US State Dept. supported tours to Colombia and Togo and Benin in West Africa. She was also selected as one of five female jazz pianists invited to participate in the inaugural Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Emerging Artists Workshop held at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and to perform at a showcase concert at the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival.
Her touring history includes two west coast tours in support of O’Doherty’s album Padme with her NYC quartet, a duo tour in China with saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, a collective tour with saxophonist Caroline Davis throughout the Midwest with the Davis + O’Doherty Quartet, and a tour in Israel with saxophonist Lihi Haruvi.
Currently performing throughout NYC and touring as a bandleader and side-musician, O’Doherty also works in the education department at Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) as a piano accompanist for the WeBop early childhood jazz education program. She leads educational performances in New York City schools about jazz, democracy and civil rights as a bandleader for JALC’s Jazz for Young People program. O’Doherty has been a faculty member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop since 2012, as well as faculty at the University of Wisconsin Madison Summer Music Clinic and Litchfield Jazz Camp.
O’Doherty holds a Bachelor of Music in performance from Berklee College of Music (BM ’13) and a Master of Music in performance from Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College (MM ’19). She has received national awards for piano performance and composition from the ASCAP Foundation and Downbeat Magazine. Caili O’Doherty is a Nord Keyboard Artist.