ROXBURY, NJ - Preschoolers are known for watching the same show over and over and over. 

For 17 year old jazz pianist Leonieke Scheuble, her early-year hyper-focus was “Ray,” the 2004 film based on the life of Ray Charles. 

“I always asked my parents to put it on.  I loved the movie and what I was hearing,” said Scheuble, who will perform as “Leonieke Scheuble and Friends” at the Roxbury Public Library on Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m.. “There’s something about the feeling he got and the groove -- it really influences my playing, the importance of blues.”

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Scheuble, of Rockaway Township, was barely in elementary school when her on-screen fascination inspired her to take to the keyboard, sounding out what she heard and eventually creating her own compositions. Unlike most musicians, she mastered the keyboard before learning to read music, which gives her a inexplicable freedom as an artist.

“When you are a child, you don’t read a book before you learn how to speak,” noted Scheuble. “You listen to your parents and others speak and you pick up words. Jazz is now universalized.  So many are reading first and not listening to it. In language, if you learned from a book before listening to people speak, there would be a big difference in the way people talk. So it is with music. You need to listen to jazz and digest it before reading it.”

Leonieke Scheuble is now 17, and an accomplished jazz pianist and organist.  A junior at Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, she shares her teenage years with the demands of a busy concert schedule, performing and lecturing at many of New York and New Jersey’s finest jazz venues. 

A student of master jazz pianist Steve Ash, Scheuble has been mentored by jazz organists Joey DeFrancesco and Dr. Lonnie Smith. She plays regularly with her own trio as ‘Leonieke and Friends,’ and has been heard on WGBO, named “Best Up and Coming Young Artist” by Hothouse NYC Fans Decision Awards, and has been singled out twice for the “Youth in Action Award” by International Women in Jazz. In 2016, Scheuble gave a TEDx Talk, filmed for PBS, and has two recordings to her credit.

Though she entered the world of jazz through listening, she is now learning how to read music, acknowledging she has lost playing opportunities with other artists because she could not read charts. Also a trumpeter with her school band, Scheuble is preparing to pursue musical performance and jazz studies. 

“I’m learning to read music now,” said Scheuble. “I still don’t really read well, but I did notice that when I was reading, I didn’t digest the music as well. I’m now kind of taking a balance between reading what; on the page, memorizing it, and messing with it over months and tweaking it.”

Her love of jazz, blues, soul and gospel makes for an interesting performance. For June 4, she said to expect some early jazz -- similar to ragtime -- and also some songs from the Great American Songbook of the 1920’s and 1930’s, as well as beebop tunes of the 40’s and 50’s including or in the style of Art Blakey, Clifford Brown, and Dizzy Gillespie.  Scheuble will also include some original arrangements.

Her trio will also include bassist Jennifer Vincent, long-time player with the modern Duke Ellington Orchestra, as well as Scheuble’s father, Nick, whose drum credentials include performances with Wynton Marsalis and Chico Mendoza. 

“I’m really fortunate to play with my dad. I don’t think I would have gotten into music if not for his support and my mom’s. He and I practice new tunes and arrangements every day.  It’s very creative.”

In a Nutshell:

Leonieke Scheuble and Friends, jazz trio, will pay tribute to the Great American Songbook, beebop, early jazz as well as introduce a few original tunes on Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m. at the Roxbury Public Library. There is no fee for the performance but RSVP is requested by calling (973) 584-2400 or emailing karen.cerreta@roxburylibrary.org.