Midnight Jazz

Deborah Wyndham covers standards ‘Tenderly’ on latest CD

August 21, 2008
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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.

http://deborahwyndham.com

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Pianist Bob Geresti dazzles with large body of work

May 1, 2008
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An Interview with Bob Geresti

Written by Vivian Fields

Some people have discographies; for pianist Bob Geresti, his body of work could be called a library. Since the early ’90s, Geresti has recorded and self-released one album after another, stretching his creative vision across the musical landscape. Among these is “Keys into the ’70s,” wherein Geresti covers classic-rock favorites such as Styx’s “Babe” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and transforms them into cinematic piano instrumentals. There is emotion in Geresti’s playing; these aren’t soulless paint-by-numbers makeovers for the Muzak set. Geresti is an artist, and most definitely a prolific one.

Vivian Fields: You have recorded in a few years more albums than people have in a lifetime. What brought forth such a massive output of creativity?

Bob Geresti: I started in 1992, selling my first three albums to gift shops and my sales skyrocketed in the next several years with fans wanting more from me. I felt that my years in piano bars were informative years for me. Those years helped me to see what songs the public really liked. My arrangements of songs and my style was what people really enjoyed. I liked learning songs by ear, even though I can read music, because I could put more of me into the songs. I’ve always had an extensive repertoire and enjoy all kinds of music.

Fields: Your albums always have a theme to them, whether they’re ’70s rock songs covered as piano instrumentals, Christmas discs, film scores, or spiritual pieces. What goes into your decision-making process in figuring out what you’re going to do next? Is it just your mood at that moment or have these styles always interested you?

Geresti: I tried to do what the public asked for as far as songs and then use a theme for the album. My mood would have some input as to how I would come up with the arrangement. I would play songs each night and some nights I would come up with a great arrangement which I would then keep and record so I would play it the same way each time. All of the different styles have always interested me. I enjoy coming up with a way to play a song that you would never think of, but would really sound good whether it was a religious song, a love song, or a classical tune to which I add my own flair.

Fields: Of all your recordings, name two that you are most proud of and why.

Geresti: It’s tough to name only two when I’ve had several. My first original album would have to be one since I feel it’s hard to get people to listen to or buy original music since they don’t know those songs.  However, during my live performances, I play my originals and people love them and always come over to comment on how well they liked the song and which album it was on.  Also, cable companies began playing my songs as well as most recently the Weather Channel. They played an original from my first album on the local on the 8’s and has received a great response. The other recording would be “Speak Softly To Me,” which has been my best seller since I released it. One song on this album I feel really sells it is Pachelbel’s “Canon In D.” I’ve had several people come up to me and say that they were big George Winston fans, but that they really liked the way I played the “Canon.” I like the way George plays it too, but my arrangement is different and has captured many fans for me.

Fields: Which of your albums have proven to be the most commercially successful, and why do you think people were so attracted to them?

Geresti: This I somewhat answered in the question above with the “Speak Softly To Me” album but the “Divine Devotions” album has been a very successful recording. As a matter of fact, it sold faster than any album when it first was released. I think my arrangements of a few of the songs on those twp albums is what really attracted people to them. I had well-known songs on each album with great arrangements.

Fields: When did you start playing piano? At what age did you feel you mastered the instrument? Or do you feel you still have more learning to do?

Geresti: I started at the age of nine and then took lessons when I was 10 through my senior year in high school. I majored in piano at West Virginia University for four years, of which two of those years I took lessons. It’s hard to say at what age I mastered the piano but after a few years of lessons, I was impressing people at malls where I would sit down and play and in school. But in college is where I really started to play songs with my current style, doing them the Geresti way which I have continued through today. As far as more learning, I still find new songs and come up with great arrangements of them during my practicing (which I still have to do!) I really still enjoy practicing especially since I purchased a Yamaha concert grand piano two years ago.

http://www.gerestimusic.com


Becky Archibald’s magnificent piano playing filled with color and character

January 29, 2008
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Reviewed by Vivian Fields

Becky Archibald/Mood Swing

You can probably film a movie around Becky Archibald’s piano-based music; filled with color and character, her compositions and magnificent playing take a life of its own. This is perhaps best symbolized by “What Might Have Been,” a dramatic piece that could’ve been a movie score for a romantic tragedy. Such is the artistry of a woman who is skilled in letting the emotions pour through her fingertips. This is not wallpaper piano jazz; it’s music with spirit and feeling.

The opener, “September,” doesn’t prepare you for how good the rest of this CD is. While pleasant and pretty, the record gets better, digs deeper into our heart as it proceeds. “Unspoken” conveys romantic longing while “Spring” captures the glowing beauty of the season which inspired it. Even better is “Spring (duet),” which adds a hauntingly beautiful cello to the arrangement. The title, Mood Swing, is appropriate as Archibald switches gears often, shifting from the playfulness of “Waltz” to the introspection of “Out of the Blue.”

http://www.beckyarchibald.com


Posted in Piano Jazz

About author

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

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