If this is the first time you have heard of Justin Echols be assured that it won't be the last. His story is one of tragedy to triumph. Justin has dedicated his careers to serving others, both in the U.S. Army Reserves and the Oklahoma City Police Department. Now he's inspiring others with his story and his music.
After an accident left him injured and he was discharged from the military he returned to the police department. With his physical abilities changed and his dreams of being a decorated officer vanishing do to a head-on collision while activated for the US Army reserves. Echols sought refuge in an unlikely place, the piano. With no formal training Echols began tinkering on the piano. The tinkering became playing and the playing became performing a year later. Three years in the playing Echols had earned quite a reputation and was put in contact with jazz phenom, Wynton Marsalis. Marsalis directed Echols to study and be mentored by pianist Antonio Ciacca, director of programming at Jazz at Lincoln Center and a Juilliard professor.
Through the experience and guidance he has received, Echols became the artist in residence at Hefner Grill. Bringing jazz to Oklahoma City five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, with his powerful voice and amazing piano skills Echols had built an inspiring international resume in the past six years. Managing his dueling careers is no small task. He is a police officer by day and an international jazz musician by night. In July 2010 Justin studied at Tuscia Jazz festival in Soriano Italy only to be asked to close out the festival. In January 2012, the Justin Echols Quartet did a three week long European tour throughout The Czech Republic and Slovakia. Echols followed by joining Antonio Ciacca for a week long feature at the Setai Hotel in New York City. After his NYC debut was a success Echols was featured by Forbes Travel in a article entitled, Jazz Clubs are the Newest Trend for Luxe Hotel. By popular demand Echols has asked to return to NYC for several week long performance engagements, including a booking for New Year's Eve.
Look for Justin Echols international debut entitled, Just in Time, which is set for a summer release in 2012. The CD is a marvelous collection of songs that represent a fabulously creative contribution to the Great American Songbook continuum. Musicians featured on the CD--Andy Farber, an award winning jazz composer, arranger and saxophonist, who has written arrangement for Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Robert Downey Jr, Kevin Spacey, Wynona Judd, Fantasia, Vanessa Williams and many more; Pete Van Nostrund, on drums, who has performed with Kurt Elling and Natalie Cole. He also toured extensively with Michael Buble in 2004-2005; Joe Cohn, on guitar, son of legendary saxophonist Al Cohn and vocalist Marylin Moore. He has toured with Al Cohn, Freddy Cole, Bob Mover, Nick Brignola.
In March 2015 while attending the funeral of his grandmother in Memphis, Justin ended up on legendary Beale Street in a small bar. A blues guitar player as well as the energy of the Delta birthed a new voyage for Justin on guitar. Justin now performs regularly on guitar and piano.