What are some of the most popular ways of playing it, besides piano?
Piano is not simple… in fact I’m not a very good piano player. But there is a way to play the piano that most musicians find attractive… I started piano lessons because I wanted to play and I could learn it from my family. When I got my first teacher, who was a musician, I felt it was possible, it really was, to learn a new instrument. For example, I was a pianist in some music ensemble, but I also had to learn how to play a few phrases. Then I worked with some people in a string group, and another year I went in charge and learned a piano, and it opened me up to learning a few more piano songs.
When did you start writing songs? Did you ever write a whole album in your spare time?
I started with a simple tune from my friend’s “Lazarus Rising/Rushing Water” album which was a ballad. Then my friend asked me if I wanted to do another ballad (I didn’t!), and together with another friend we finished a piece with a full orchestra. We did it for his album and it was published as a single (The Ballads of the North). But I never wrote a song until I got my first teacher.
When did you first start to compose yourself? Was composing with a band ever a long-term project in the beginning?
The first time a song was published, I’d started in a music ensemble called “The New England Jazz Band,” which is a jazz group in Boston. It was a great experience, a good band, but I was also very influenced by the blues in my early 20’s and wanted to do something different.
There was a song called “Cha Cha Bop” done with a blues band in college at Berklee, which was also published on the same album as “Piano for Two.” But I had to change the title, and I had to rewrite and re-take the entire thing. Then I published “Bing Bing” – an attempt at writing a melody, not a traditional song – and “The Ballads of the South,” which is really a solo piano/bop-inspired song.
At that time I had no band, so we went to a blues jam band called “J.R. Jams” in Boston (I still sing their songs) and I worked with them on “The Ball
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