Pianist/composer Chris Opperman
grew up in New Jersey and attended Berklee. While at Berklee, Opperman
took a chance and contacted Mike Keneally
to see if Keneally
would be willing to produce the album he was putting together with his band from school, Chris Opperman & the Random Factor
. The answer was yes, and in April of 1998 they recorded Oppy Music, Vol. 1: Purple Crayon
's own Purple Cow label. The album featured a mixture of pop/rock stylings and some of Oppy
's more challenging, thoroughly composed, and sometimes dazzling instrumentals.
After graduating, Opperman moved to Los Angeles, maintaining his relationship with Keneally. Keneally served as producer on Opperman's second album, Klavierstücke (2000), a strictly solo piano affair with a mixture of exquisitely played compositions and improvisations. At the same time, Oppy was drafted for Keneally's eight-piece version of Beer for Dolphins, where Opperman played trumpet and just a bit of piano for the recording Dancing. For the next couple years, Opperman sought a musical place for himself in Los Angeles and tried to put a band together, while working at the Universal Music Publishing Group.
In 2003, things started to pan out, with his band Special Opps starting to get gigs in the L.A. area. Also in 2003, Keneally was commissioned to compose a work for guitar and orchestra by the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra, and Opperman served as co-orchestrator and copyist for both the concert and subsequent recording of The Universe Will Provide (finally released in September 2004) . Following that, Opperman was asked by Steve Vai to serve in the same capacity, as Vai got a similar commission. In addition to orchestrating, Opperman was the featured piano player for a series of performances with Vai and the Metropole Orchestra in May of 2004. That same year, Opperman released Concepts of Non-Linear Time, an album of duets, before touring briefly with Shankar & Gingger featuring Zakir Hussain in September of 2004.
In May of 2005, he began studio sessions for Special Opps, recording at Vai's Mothership Studio while simultaneously preparing to release his first live album, Beyond the Foggy Highway, which was released in October of that year. He also received the 2005 Unanimous Choice L.A. Music Award for Best Keyboardist/Pianist. In 2006, Vai's "Lotus Feet," a track that featured Opperman on piano, was nominated for the Grammys' Best Rock Instrumental Performance. That same year he performed with Terry Bozzio and Warren Cuccurullo at the Viper Room and also guested at a Missing Persons reunion show. ~ Sean Westergaard, Rovi