Aaron Otheim’s work as a pianist, keyboardist and composer has helped fuel the recent explosion of new, experimental and improvised music in Seattle. His upbringing in classical piano paired with an extremely varied performance resume that spans jazz, rock and experimental genres has yielded a glowing musical output.
Otheim performs regularly with groups including avant-jazz collective Burn List (featuring Cuong Vu, Greg Sinibaldi, Chris Icasiano), as well as with fusion quartet Hardcoretet (Tarik Abouzied, Tim Carey, Art Brown) and pop-rock outfit Heatwarmer (Luke Bergman, Kristian Garrard, Andrew Swanson, Evan Woodle).
Originally enrolled as a piano performance major at University of Washington, Otheim eventually shifted his focus towards jazz and improvised music, graduating with a jazz studies degree in 2008. With fellow students, he founded the band Speak, which later incorporated acclaimed trumpet player and UW professor Cuong Vu. BBC Music hailed the 2009 release of Speak’s eponymous debut album as “a debut rocket ride of outstanding quality.” In 2010, Speak performed at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival in Austria.
Otheim also performs with Grand Hallway, Thousands, Andy Clausen’s Wishbone Ensemble, Wand and Smallface. He has also been commissioned to compose original music for Seattle’s “May Day!” Music Festival at Town Hall, a yearly showcase of original and experimental music from the Northwest.
Otheim is a co-founder and artistic director of the Racer Sessions, a weekly series dedicated to composition and improvisation that was recently spotlighted in the New York Times. He is also a co-founder and board member of Seattle creative music record label Table & Chairs.