The late jazz critic, Leonard Feather of the Los Angeles Times, said, "Cleveland has an engaging eclectic in Habian, everything switches around from cut to cut: the size of the band, the genre of the music, the source of Habian's inspiration." That was fourteen years ago, and since then, Cliff has remained true to those words.
He began piano lessons at the age of nine and was composing music just a few years later. With both classical and jazz music being strong influences, he decided early on to integrate the two genres into his own unique style.
Eventually, after attending the Cleveland Institute of Music, he accepted a position as Director of American Music and Department Head of Keyboard Studies at the Cleveland Music School Settlement, where he taught for 13 years.
He has worked with such greats as Joe Lovano, Freddie Cole, Frank Morgan, and many others ina ddition to appearing on Good Morning America, and opened for such jazz legends as Mel Lewis and Dave Brubeck.
His international reputation began with a recording debut for Milestone/Fantasy Records. His concert appearances have been global, including Russia, Thailand, and Panama, in addition to appearing in jazz festivals and educational clinics in the United States.