Few students have come to the JAZZ HOUSE with more prodigious talent than 21-year-old Esteban Castro, a remarkable pianist, composer, and bandleader who started classes when he was seven years old. Originally from Hackensack, Esteban was classically trained but fell in love with pianists like Chick Corea and Bill Evans at an early age, which led him to jazz. Part of a special group of young players called “the Upstarts,” Esteban thrived during his time at the JAZZ HOUSE. His experience there was heavily defined by the relationships he formed, and they continue to shape his professional world.
“I had a lot of role models because I was so much younger than everyone. As a Juilliard student, many of my closest friends and mentors are people I was originally around at JAZZ HOUSE. They are still the core of my social circle. Being able to play with people that were more advanced than me was really important.”
“Through APA, I did my first residency at a university, which was really valuable. Also, getting to play duo with Cecile [McLorin Salvant] was awesome because she is one of my favorites.” He was also thrilled to be with his big brothers, Isaiah and Caelan, as co-finalists. “Isaiah has always been such a huge role model, and Caelan, who is more similar in age, and I were super close during our time together at JAZZ HOUSE. It is nice to have a new chapter in our relationships and to share this moment with them.”
Esteban is a Young Steinway Artist, winner of 15 Downbeat Student Music Awards and was the youngest winner of the Montreux Jazz Piano Solo Competition. As he continues his undergraduate studies at Juilliard, Esteban’s calendar continues to fill up as a sideman, and his career as a bandleader is on a meteoric path.