4 July 2022

Jazz Piano

Admin note – from now on, I’ll be posting about music on Mondays, under the tag #musicmonday. I cn’t guarantee it will be every week, but I’ll try. Fiction posts will be on Fridays under the tag of, yes, #fictionfriday. Other posts will be as and when around those fixed points.

As I’ve already said in a previous post, I love piano music. Obviously I like jazz piano, but other genre too.

I’ve already posted about Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. The Duke though was also a great piano player. One day I’ll do a post just about him on piano, but for now here he is playing a medley from 1966.

Another great jazz pianist was Thelonius Monk. He was influenced by Duke, but had his own very individual style. I saw him in 1971 in London as part of an amazing group that included Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt and Art Blakey. Here’s that band in Rotterdam, in October 1971, only a few weeks before I saw them.

I saw McCoy Tyner in 1978, when he played at a Jazz Festival at Ayresome Park in Middlesborough, the then home of Middlesborough football club. It was as part of a remarkable bill that also included, over the three days, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy Rich. I seem to remember a thunderous set, but after 40 plus years not much else. I only made one day of the event. More information about the event here: https://www.mfc.co.uk/jazz-festival

Here he is with his trio in 1998, twenty years later.

One of the greatest jazz piano players ever, must be Oscar Peterson. I saw him play once, but can’t remember the date. His technique is outstanding, with a huge handspan. This is from an appearance at Ronnie Scott’s Club in 1974. If he was in the UK then, that’s possibly when I saw him, although not at that venue.

Another phenomenal musician was Art Tatum. I never saw him play, but his rapid runs always astound. Here he is improvising around Dvorak’s Humoresque, in 1953. This one inspired me enough to use it as a title for one of my art pieces.

Another jazz take on a classical piece comes from Fats Waller, a great pianist, but perhaps better known for songs like ‘Your feet’s too big’.

Oh your pedal extremities are colossal
To me, you look just like a fossil
You got me walkin’, talkin’ and squawkin’
‘Cause your feet’s too big, yeah

Come on and walk that thing
Oh, I’ve never heard of such walkin’, mercy
Your, your pedal extremities really are obnoxious
One never knows, do one?

This one is based on the Intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana.

A pianist I have recently discovered is Hiromi Uehara. Every time I’ve seen her, never live sadly, she has such enormous energy. Here she is playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no 8, although not quite as the composer intended…

Many classical pianists also play jazz, Andre Previn being probably the best known. Here he is playing and talking with Oscar Peterson.

I don’t think Daniel Barenboim plays jazz but being Argentinian born, he plays tango. One of my favourite albums is by him, Mi Buenos Aires Querido. Here he is playing a track from that album.

1 Comment

  • These are some really great jazz artists some of whom I’ve seen perform and may have written about. There have been a number of really good Japanese jazz musicians in recent decades I discovered as I think of one of the first I became aware of — Akiyoshi who was playing with Lew Tabackin.

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