Craig Jaster's first formative music experience came when he was seven. Andrew Lloyd Webber, then an unknown composer, wrote Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as a rock oratorio at his primary school, which the students premiered in London’s St. Paul’s Church. At seven he also began to study piano with kind, brilliant Dennis Knight, pianist at the Royal Opera House.
As a teenager in Washington, DC, he was influenced by legendary indie station WHFS, which then championed everything from soul and jazz to bluegrass and folk; and by the free outdoor concerts he attended in the rock heyday of the early ‘70s. By age 16 he was songwriting, playing mandolin and singing in folk-rock bands, and setting lyrics by Shakespeare and Georg Büchner to new music for a local theater company. He also had the extreme good fortune to see pianists Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, and Sun Ra, which made a deep impact at an early age.
While studying painting at Sarah Lawrence College, he began accompanying modern dance; work he continued after college in New York City, where he also studied voice with Donna Jewell, who remains a valued mentor. In 1987 he moved to New England to teach at a small independent K-12 school, directing play productions and jazz, rock, and vocal groups, among other duties, and moonlighting with local rock and dance bands. Area jazz musicians took notice, and the mostly self-taught pianist evolved into a sought after sideman and session player for local and touring jazz artists. From 1999-2004 he also taught jazz piano at Plymouth State University. By 2015, his extensive catalog of vocal and instrumental compositions, easy rapport with audiences, and unique musical voice established his natural place as leader of his own group, the Craig Jaster Trio.
In 2019, he moved to Florence, Italy, painting and performing locally with his latest trio. He returns to the U.S. every year to tour with his quartet and with Americana band The Buskers. In 2019 he was also guest music director, composer, and performer with Washington, DC area Happenstance Theater for a new play which premiered at Baltimore Theater Project.