With one solo performance under my belt (my solo debut on the Reykjavik Jazz Festival last month), I was invited to perform solo piano during a lunch break at the international music conference You Are In Control. It was definitely interesting to perform my compositions sort of as a cocktail pianist, with movie directors and music industry people networking and chatting all around, wondering if I was too loud or maybe not being heard. It wasn't a concert but not just for ambiance either. It remains to be seen if I actually reached any ears.
I attended some of the workshops and lectures being offered, in search of inspiration or ideas to reach a wider audience. Máni Svavarsson, composer for TV show Lazytown; Ralph Simon, head of London based Mobilium Advisory Group; and Sigurjon Sighvatsson, producer and owner of Palomar Pictures all talked about one having to believe in oneself. (I must mention that I got a kick out of how Simon kept pronouncing Máni's name "money." He is, after all, the composer bringing in the most royalties in Iceland.) Alicen Schneider, NBC gave insights into how music is selected for scenes on TV shows (so of course, I handed her a couple of CDs and said that Heros needed Icelandic jazz), and listening to Hampus Kivimae, Sony/ATV Publishing Scandinavia made me rethink whether I should get a publisher. (read more…)
Last Saturday I was peeling a carrot with a brand new serrated peeler that slipped and took a chunk out of the tip of my left index finger. Ouch! It was too small to have it sewn back on (which didn't even occur to me at the time) but bad enough for me to seek the assistance of my neighbor, who happens to be a nurse. I was stunned for the next two days. How could I be so careless with my hands? Then fortunately by yesterday I began to feel amazed at how quickly the hole was filling in and now it looks like I can start playing again. I wonder if I'll get a new fingerprint. Maybe I'll be detained next time I enter the US. Anyway, I feel grateful that it wasn't worse.
It makes me think of the great guitarist Django Reinhardt and how two of his left hand fingers were paralyzed in a fire (and not just that, the doctors would have amputated his right leg if his gypsy clan hadn't smuggled him out of the hospital), but he still managed to master his instrument and become a legend. About 7 minutes into the video below one can see how he solos with only two fingers.
Luckily, I won't have to learn to play the piano with only two fingers.
This year I was asked to give a solo piano performance at the Reykjavik Jazz Festival with rather short notice. I had never given a solo concert before besides the occasional cocktail gig, and so to me it was a welcomed challenge.
In search of inspiration I listened to three pianists playing solo. All of them have a very personal approach. Bill Evans, not concerned with walking bass or playing stride says it all with his beautiful chords; Django Bates walks, strides and paints with nuttiness on Autumn Fires (And Green Shoots); and Keith Jarrett gets these incredible grooves happening on the Sun Bear Concerts. Well, as Jarrett says on Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, after playing so much with a rhythm section the left hand is almost like an appendage for jazz pianists.
Having this performance coming up (and in the company of 4 other fine Icelandic jazz pianists, I might add: Agnar Már Magnússon, Árni Heiðar Karlsson, Eythor Gunnarsson and Davið Þór Jónsson) was a good kick in the you-know-what to start giving that left hand some T.L.C.
It would probably have been easier to play a standard, the standard way, but I wanted to present a personal approach so I played two tunes of mine and one interpretation of a folk song. Now I am fascinated by the art of playing solo piano and plan to develop it more. Here's a video of 'A Garden Someday' from that performance:
This is the very first post in my new blog. I hope that it will become an enjoyable way to communicate with people around the world. So if you are reading this please leave a comment. I intend to write about things I like such as jazz (duh), food and I guess what ever is interesting to me at the moment.