Jazz pianist Dr. Dennis J. Tini was born April 1, 1948, in Endicott, NY. He and his family moved to Detroit four years later, where he grew up. His first teacher was his father, Ray Tini, Sr., who was a professional musician in New York from 1945-1952, following four years in Europe during World War II as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's jazz band director. His brother is the accomplished electric bass guitarist Ray Tini, and his wife is the acclaimed vocalist April Arabian Tini. His jazz piano influences include Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Red Garland, Ahmad Jamal, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Roger Kellaway, and Keith Jarrett, as well as arranger Claus Ogerman. Classical piano influences include Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubenstein, and Glenn Gould, as well as composers Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Igor Stravinsky. He attended Cooley High School, followed by undergraduate and graduate studies at Wayne State University, earning B.A. and M.A. degrees in music by 1972. Tini spent time at the Meadowbrook School of Music, earning professional performance certificates as a conducting scholarship student of Robert Shaw, the conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Robert Shaw Chorale. He took private studies in 1973 with Sixten Ehrling, former conductor of the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra and former conducting chair at the Juilliard School of Music. Other teachers have included Malcolm Johns, Howard Swan, Harry Langsford, and Charles Hirt. In choral music he has studied with Roger Wagner, William Dawson, Gregg Smith, Margaret Hillis, Alice Parker, Julius Herford, and Weston Noble. Tini's personal voice studies were taken with Blake Stern and Robert Cowden.
Since his student days, Dennis Tini has worked, performed, and taught in Detroit at Wayne State for over four decades. As an administrator, Tini served as chairman of the Wayne State University Department of Music in Detroit from 1992-2005, was co-founder of the jazz studies program, directed the W.S.U. Jazztet, has headed the Graduate and University Choral Union, and the Wayne State music business and technology divisions. He has appeared with Buddy Rich, Jon Faddis, Don Ellis, Marvin Stamm, Bunky Green, Jeff Halsey, Peter Soave, the Rucner String Quartet (Zagreb, Croatia), and prominent Detroiters J.C. Heard, saxophonist George Benson, Marcus Belgrave, Larry Nozero, Chris Collins, John A. Katalenic, and David Taylor, among others. Tini is in demand internationally as a jazz trio and ensemble leader, clinician, adjudicator, and arts consultant, and has appeared regularly at major music festivals, universities, and conferences throughout Europe, South Africa, Canada, South America, and the United States. In addition, he has conducted orchestras for Hollywood movies. Tini has served on National Endowment for the Arts music review panels and the United States Information Agency International Arts America evaluation committee, and is a past president of the International Association of Jazz Educators.