September 26, 1956 Fats Domino enters the charts with Blueberry Hill!
Another great piano rocker! I love Fats Domino and was glad to have the chance to play Blueberry Hill. There are hundreds of guitar rocker dudes but only a handful of great piano dudes. This is the style of piano playing that attracted me to piano, although when my mom sent me to piano lessons at age 6 with Mrs. Stumpf I was taught some tiresome crap that made me want to run away. But my mommy made me keep going, and finally I figured out how to play rock piano on my own. Later on I realized that most teachers they have their own thing, and if you are studying with them, learn their thing then move on to the next teacher and learn THEIR thing! It wasn’t until I studied with Norman Gold that I realized how to absorb music information and find my own thing!
When I teach, I give students the tools and let them build whatever they want. Unless of course they say “I wanna play like Fats Domino,” and I say “Hell Yeah!”
August 12, 1978 The Commodores start a two week run at #1 with Three Times A Lady!
once twice three times...
In 1978 I had just left Manhattan School of Music and I was moving into an apartment on 57th street (which is now Dylan’s apartment!) I was studying piano with Norman Gold and gigging weekends in the Catskills. Up in the Catskills there were these small resorts called bungalow colonies and on the weekends they would have a comedian start,then a singer, then a magician, another comedian, then a stripper, then another comedian and I would have to play for all of them from 7 pm to 4 am.
And then I’d drive back to the city and be off to some other gig the next day carrying all my equipment again.
So last night’s gig was 4 hours. I got home by 3, didn’t have to carry anything and I’m going to have to rest for 2 days to recover.
I do thank those days in the Catskills for teaching me how to conduct any kind of act that comes my way and it also helped me learn how to work with every kind of crazy performer this industry has to offer!
As for Three Times a Lady, I’ve always liked Lionel Richie songs because among other things he writes great choruses and this is one of them.
July 12, 1965 the Beach Boys were recording Sloop John B.
Today I did a gig in midtown for a great organization SUS – Services for the Underserved.
I play for a lot of non-profits and a lot of different organizations, but this one is tops in my book with such love and camaraderie. They performed skits about each other and it was hysterical – all in good fun and no one was offended (I think!) but anyway I played piano for all the skits and sang a bunch of songs.
Everyone sang along but when I started playing my Caribbean medleys and some reggae the audience went wild. They knew every word and danced in the aisles. I have to give props to my early teachers like Norman Gold who told me, “To get gigs, it’s not how great you play but how many songs you know and to know how to play the right song at the right time.”
That is something I always think about.
Who is my audience and what can I play to make them happy?
Well, today it was the island music and this song by the Beach Boys was taken from an old West Indies song, so I’m keeping the theme all day.
Love this song!
April 26, 1984, William “Count” Basie dies at the age of 79.
I’ve studied with some brilliant teachers in my life. One of my biggest mentors was Norman Gold — he played for Phil Woods & Erroll Garner and was piano teacher to the stars.
When Norman talked about Count Basie he talked about the spaces between the notes. That there is the groove, and you just need to show up, sparingly, to enforce the groove. When you watch Basie play, he is so relaxed and calm yet the piano is boogieing!
Norman would make me do exercises that he used on gigs with Davey Schildkraut. Ten minutes before they went onstage they’d start the song together without instruments. For example, he’d call All of of Me in C, 1 2 3 4 (the song and the tempo) and then for ten minutes they’d keep the song going in their heads. When they got on stage they’d start wherever they were in the tune! Talk about having your groove together. I used to sit at my lesson for the first ten minutes keeping some song in my head and then start playing. My groove improved. Thanks, Norm.
Funny story about Davey. He would never go on the road with Miles or Dizzy. He wouldn’t leave his mailman gig. He was happy just walkin his route, taking jazz solos in his head.
I tried to get my best friend, swing singer John Malino, to come over and sing this with me today, but he was watching the kids .
Well, here is All of Me – my attempt to honor the Count in his style.