This teaser for my show tonight at Jazz Central Studios includes a handful of snippets from my rehearsals of the electroacoustic piano pieces I’ll be performing. It’s all acoustic piano with processing that includes delays, live looping, freezing reverb decay, and reverse. The last snippet also includes the use of a felt mute between the hammers and the strings. The tone is much darker, softer, and subdued.
I feel excited and privileged to be playing a concert of original piano compositions on November 23, 2016 at Jazz Central Studios in Minneapolis. The compositions include acoustic piano pieces (unaltered by processing or electronics) and a number of electroacoustic piano pieces that will involve manipulating the signal from the piano in real-time. For example I’ll be using an analog delay to create pulsing washes of sound from the piano. There will also be examples of sampling and looping the piano and then manipulating the loops through more processing.
Although ACB readers will be more familiar with my electronic work, acoustic piano is the instrument that has stayed with me since childhood. I even had a weekly jazz piano gig that lasted eleven years! This upcoming solo piano performance will be my first in over a decade and it will be very different for me because I’ll be playing my own compositions instead of a the jazz standards I used to play.
Jazz Central Studios has a really great sounding grand piano in house that I’ll be playing during the show. I have performed at the venue a number of times recently thanks to friend, bassist, and collaborator, Casey O’Brien who is one of the current artistic directors for the non-profit organization. Here’s some more information about JCS:
Jazz Central Studios (JCS) is a tax exempt nonprofit organization committed to strengthening the Twin Cities jazz community by offering a live performance/educational environment that nurtures artistic growth. Our space consists of 1800 square feet which seats up to 50 people. It is complete with grand piano, house drum set PA, and lights.
In 2010, local jazz musicians Mac Santiago and Tanner Taylor established Jazz Central Studios as a rehearsal and recording space for Twin Cities jazz musicians. We encourage jazz patrons and musicians of all levels to become a part of Jazz Central Studios. Whether you want to develop your skills and career as a performing musician or you want to meet other jazz enthusiasts and support the local scene, there is a place for you here.
The music on November 23, 2016 will start at 8:30pm. The suggested donation is $10 for general admission and $5 for students. I hope you’ll join me! Here’s an excerpt from a recording of me (piano, electronics), Cody McKinney (bass, voice, electronics), and Graham O’Brien (drums, electronics) made at JCS by Diego Ramallo. In the recording I’m using a sampler to live-loop piano layers and then run things through delays and other processing.
Recently my wife, dog, and cat moved into a new house and downsized going from over 1400 square feet to 725. In this process I sold off and gave away a number of space hungry instruments including a chopped Hammond, one of my three Rhodes electric pianos, and my 1916 Wesley Raudenbusch & Sons farmhouse, upright-grand piano (see photo below). Sadly I had been neglecting acoustic piano in favor of Rhodes, synths, and an excellent Steinway Model D plugin from UVI. You can see this in the photo because I had allowed my wife to cover the top with the cat’s food and water, a cat bed, and decorations. Yikes! Continue reading
My mate Joshua Herbst recently shared this video with me of the first ever “fluid” piano invented by Geoff Smith.
The completely acoustic piano allows the musician to tune every string by a whole tone either during the performance or before hand in order to set up particular microtonal scales.
The fluid piano sounds beautiful, reminiscent of sitar, but with a deeper tone quality. I can’t wait to hear more from this ingenious instrument.
Here’s the original article from the Guardian:
Introducing the ‘fluid piano’
This as yet untitled rough mix is made up of a few simple melodies recorded on my 1916 Raudenbush & Sons upright piano. Interspersed within the piece are a number of what I’m calling piano sound objects. I used a couple of different techniques to create these sounds.
To get some of the sound objects I tapped the strings with a variety of mallets. Another sound was created by rubbing a mallet along the string in a rhythmic pattern. I also created an interesting sound using a brush, intended for use on drums, to stroke the strings across the sound board.
The processing involved includes high quality reverberation, equalization, and compression, but I also took the liberty of applying pitch shifting a reverse in a few places. Although all of the sounds originate from the same acoustic piano, I would still call this an electronic piece because of the editing, treatments and processing used.
Untitled Piano Sound Objects