Midnight Jazz

Deborah Wyndham covers standards ‘Tenderly’ on latest CD

August 21, 2008
Leave a Comment

Written by Vivian Fields

Tenderly is the name of pianist Deborah Wyndham’s latest release, and it could also describe her playing as well. The lovely Wyndham never gives less than an inspired performance on the album, covering such classics as “Blue Moon” and “As Time Goes By” with genuine emotion and succulent beauty.

Vivian Fields: How did you select the covers on the Tenderly CD? Were they personal favorites of yours?

Deborah Wyndham: Yes, they were personal favorites and I felt that they were my best arrangements from my repetoire of that genre of music. Those particular arrangements nicely evolved on their own over the course of a couple of years.

Fields: What initially inspired you to play the piano?

Wyndham: I think I was coerced by my mother into taking lessons, but my real love for playing the piano started when I discovered ragtime music a couple of years later (which was how I got onto the wrong side of the tracks, according to my then 82-year old English classical piano teacher).

Fields: Were your parents supportive of your decision to become a musician?

Wyndham: Yes, they’ve been very supportive of me throughout my life, but I actually wasn’t really planning on becoming a musician as I didn’t follow the traditional path towards a music profession, but piano has always been a passion.

Fields: What artists have had the biggest influence on you?

Wyndham: I don’t have any influences in particular. People sometimes say I sound like this pianist or that one, but some of these pianists I’ve never even heard since I don’t listen to a lot of piano music. I like to come at it from all angles and have an eclectic taste in what I listen to. My music has evolved from that as well as the various styles I’ve played. I like variety. My early classical training plays a big part as well, as my music is actually more classical sounding to most people than jazzy.

Fields: How did you learn to play two time signatures simultaneously?

Wyndham: That happened by accident. When I decided to start playing out, I only could play a few songs and didn’t know any modern jazz techniques, just some traditional jazz styles. I quickly learned a lot of standards, but couldn’t improvise melodically. So, I think to compensate, I started playing with the rhythms, bending and layering them according to what I felt was right. I play a lot by intuition, and that’s how it happened, I guess.



Gentle, soulful piano playing reflects the quiet heart of composer Bryan Rowe

August 16, 2008
Leave a Comment

Written by Julian Wilson

Bryan Rowe seems to have a quiet heart; you can hear that in his gentle, soulful piano playing. It is a soft-spoken personality whose fingers grace the keys, but one that has endured turmoil as well. His album, Songs of the Soul, is a contemporary classical piece with the evocative air of a soundtrack. However, it is not cinema that Rowe’s compositions conjure, but the reels of memory, unspooling in the deepest recessions of our imagination.

Julian Wilson: The depth of emotion in your work is quite extraordinary and, in the stuffy world of classical music, quite a departure. When you compose music, do you write from the images in your mind?

Bryan Rowe: As a composer, I create music, the melody being the most important, which reflects events that I have personally lived through or an event which has particular meaning to me that someone else has experienced.  This can be somewhat risky because the emotion that is involved in creating and playing this music exposes me to the listener.  Though risky, I have this hope that what I have experienced can relate to the listener’s life experience through my music.

Wilson: What are some of the things that move you as a pianist? Name one or two of your pieces that are especially close to your heart.

Rowe: The piano to me is such an intimate instrument.  The ability to let the piano play itself is an experience that I have when I play.  By this I mean that the piano is my conduit: the music simply pours from my being into the keys.  The ability to caress each key on the piano strikes me – this allows me to not only create evocative melodies but couple the music with emotion and sensitivity. Two pieces of my own that quickly come to mind are pieces I have written for certain people who have touched my life:  “Laura’s Dance” and “Nocturne in a,” both from the CD Spiorad.  Two pieces from the classical world would definitely include Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata  and Chopin’s “Ballade in G Minor,” both pieces I frequently play in concert.

Wilson: How did it begin, such unbridled passion for the melodic and sublime?

Rowe: Playing the piano began at age four when my dad brought home pieces of a piano and put it together in our basement.  I began playing by ear.  I mention this because the music I hear in my head as my own lives there for a while until I sit down and play it.  I would be remiss if I did not mention that I believe I have been given the gift for creating melodies which evoke emotion.  Knowing something of mathematics, it is easy for me to analyze why certain melodies have an effect on the psyche and heart.  However, I do not use mathematics in my creation of melodies.  These come naturally to me; I do not sit for hours at the piano and try to come up with tunes which I think will touch people.  A recent experience was the creation of music for my daughter’s wedding.  I created a suite of three pieces for the ceremony, each of these incorporating tunes which focus on the love and devotion that I have for my daughter.  Again, the music takes on a personal, autobiographical nature that others can relate to.

Wilson: What artists, classical and otherwise, do you feel embody your elegant sense of taste?

Rowe: As a composer, I am, of course, influenced by the sounds of others that are not my own.  These find their way into my psyche, and together with my gift of melody, music is born which is emotional and, as you put it, sublime.  I would have to say that some predecessors would include Johann Sebastian Bach, Frederic Chopin, Maurice Durufle, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Samuel Barber, and Eric Korngold.  Through their film scores, contemporaries would definitely include Ennio Morricone and John Barry.  

Wilson: How often do you compose music? Is it a spontaneous process or something that is more thought out?

Rowe: Though I work best under pressure when I know I have a project to complete, I compose music when it has lived in my head long enough before I sit down at the piano and play it. To me, it is like the performer of any piece who plays or sings in public in a concert or recital venue; living with the music long enough is an essential part of composing and/or performing music. However, I am a lover of improvisation;  I am able to, at any time, compose a piece which is based on a spontaneous melody. I have been improvising since I was 4 years old.  Of course, the melodies have become more sophisticated yet economical in the use of notes. The additional component of living through more life experiences has had an integral effect on the creation of my music.


About author

Julian Wilson, Editor, has been writing about different genres of music, from jazz to techno, for nearly two decades in print.