The Blues Are Back in Town: E.C. Native Returns to Jazz It Up

jazz musician Tyler Lustek returns to Eau Claire with a whole lotta soul

Kelly Carlson |

FEELIN' THE BLUES. E.C. native Tyler Lustek graduated with an MFA in music, a passion and talent he discovered while attending Memorial High School.
FEELIN' THE BLUES. E.C. native Tyler Lustek (left on piano) graduated with an MFA in music, a passion and talent he discovered while attending Memorial High School. Now back in town, Lustek wants to give back to the community. (Photo from Lustek's Facebook)

A musical setting can be both intimate and inspiring: for the listeners, an enjoyable, soothing feeling across strangers; for the musicians, an electrifying chord of connectivity, no matter how old or young.

For Tyler Lustek, an Eau Claire native, that chord reverberated strongly 10 years ago as a freshman at Eau Claire Memorial High School. While watching Jazz I players excel with talent and laughter, Lustek decided to join the jazz community with open arms and fell in love, playing magical tunes on the piano and trumpet. Now, because of those influential times and teachers, he’s back with a master's degree in jazz studies from Northern Illinois University and eager ambition to swing into action out on the late-night scene.

“Coming back to Eau Claire is a means for me to pay back what I owe in terms of giving back to the people who helped me develop as a musician,” Lustek said. “I feel like I’ve been on the fast track – the highway. … I feel like this is my opportunity to live life on my own terms, getting off the highway. Maybe taking the scenic route a little more.” 

Ranging from ambitious original compositions to improvisational jams with old and new friends, Lustek brings with him to E.C. a unique, jazz experience on the piano. Combining old classics from Herbie Hancock and Rachmaninoff to modern retellings of Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind, and Fire, Lustek celebrates music authentic to himself. “I try to keep one foot in tradition and one foot in progression,” he said.

A composer, musician, and teacher, Lustek is dedicated to giving back to the Eau Claire community and his students within it to inspire more musicians down the line. 

“The fact that I’m an Eau Claire native, I think really resonates with people,” he said. “I have a place in the scene here. I feel very fortunate.” 

Catch all of Lustek’s late-night jams (featuring The Tyler Lustek Quartet, the Nick Zuck Collective, the Groove Merchants, and more) at 200 Main Art & Wine, The Lakely, Artisan Forge, The Stone’s Throw, and the Clear Water Jazz Fest (Aug. 27) at the Brewing Projekt. 

For more information on upcoming shows, booking, and teaching availability, check out Tyler Lustek’s website.