The Piano – my earlier years

by Ken on July 1, 2009

My instrument of choice, the one I spent a fair amount of time attempting to fathom, was and remains the piano.

I  started off with lessons, like most of us. And I hated them. I remember the gold stars that my teacher, Miss (or Mrs.) Lamp pasted on my songbooks. These sorry things were collections of crappy songs that were sure to make every boy darn well seek out some other passion and every girl quietly dread the next lesson or the next practice.

One day,  after listening to Jose Iturbi, I decided that if I was going to ever learn to play well I’d have to break out on my own. So I went to a local sheet music store and found a song my dad loved – Nola. It was written in its original key of D (that is two sharps). It was not simplified – just what the doctor ordered. So I confronted it – and I learned it. And I jumped over every crazy and boring book out there and went right for the jugglar vein.

I had wins. That was all it took for me to start on the road to development.

I learned classical songs. Those were what taught me to play. They did not teach me music. But they taught me to play.

One song, which I memorized from the book, and had down pretty well was George Gershwin’s, Rhapsody in Blue. This was a piece that moved me on a level I did not understand. But it involved New York City, and probably took into account the cover on an album my mother owned.

I recorded this next one in 1975 on a full sized Baldwin Grand Piano. I set up a stereo recorder and with a mike on each side, cushioned by wash clothes.

I took it straight through. But in listening, I am somewhat astounded that I could do this. These notes still lay within me – but I’d have to dig deep to find them.

Sorry for the over modulation. But you can hear the work I put into this – in those early days.

Rhapsody in Blue

In my mid 30’s I began to learn music. What I mean by this was that I learned structure and how to just play and to feel.

A song I recorded was Crystal Silence by Chick Corea. I’ve had the chance to meet Chick and help him set up a studio in his home. This was recorded in the early eighties. I had a piano where I could lay in bass and drums – and have fun.

Crystal Silence

The “Fabulous Baker Boys” is one of my favorite movies. No jazz player can watch that movie and fail to understand the heart of both the brothers – but especially the talented one played by the younger Bridges brother. One song he played, actually by Dave Gursin, was the theme from that movie. This music can not be found anywhere, so I took the recording and transcribed it into the chord and the feel. The chords are haunting. Here is my recording of that song:

Theme from the Baker Boys

I began to play much jazz. Many are recorded and many shall be recorded. But here is an early work which I found. This was recorded in about 1985.


Hope you enjoyed.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pam Conners September 4, 2009 at 1:55 am

Ken, your recording of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is f a b u l o u s!
Mr Harrison would be very impressed!

I enjoyed.

Broken Arrow, OK

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