Wells Hanley is an adjunct professor at VCU, where he teaches Jazz Piano, Jazz Piano for the Non-Keyboard Player, and Small Jazz Ensemble. He holds a Bachelor of Music in classical piano from James Madison University and a Master of Music in jazz piano from The Manhattan School of Music. He has studied jazz piano with Bob Hallahan, Garry Dial, and Fred Hersch and has performed with David Liebman, Chris Potter, Stanley Jordan, Wynton Marsalis, Dick Oatts, Bill Watrous, John D’earth, Tim Reynolds, and Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead. He has appeared at the Spoleto Music Festival in Italy as well as The North Sea and Montreux Jazz Festivals. In addition to his work as a jazz pianist, Hanley has collaborated with Broadway singers Darius DeHaas and Tom Wopat, as well as rock musicians Brian Vander Ark, Dave Matthews, Carter Beauford, and Boyd Tinsley. Wells has served on the faculty at The New School University and at James Madison University.
A jazz pianist with deep roots in both its historical traditions and its newer paths, Hanley is also a collaborator at the keyboard with vocalists in the Broadway and cabaret styles—so sought after in New York City that he performs there several days a month. His classical expression is honed sufficiently that he can and does accompany classical vocalists for their arias at a major music festival. He also writes and sings rock, plus plays some drums and guitar as well.