Here’s a great way to end the evening. In this video of a musical duet, Peter Martin is accompanying Dianne Reeves on the tune “That’s All.” There is some pretty amazing musicality going on here, starting with Peter’s gorgeous introduction to the tune (but sorry that the ending is cut off a bit too soon).
BTW, Peter’s children attend school with my children. Last year, he volunteered to accompany the third graders for their musical. During the big performance, somehow . . . somehow . . . he made sure that he never stole the spotlight from the children–it was an incredible musical experience to hear the voices of little children framed by the music of a world-class jazz pianist.
Every other month here in St. Louis, Peter is playing jazz at the beautiful Sheldon Theater in the Central West End. The next show is June 4 at 8pm. The first two installments (the February show featuring Peter and Dianne Reeves and the show two nights ago featuring Peter and Jeremy Davenport) were everything you could have hoped for. If you’re interested in hearing some great jazz live for a reasonable price of $25 per seat at the Sheldon, visit Peter’s site. If you’d like to view and listen to more of Peter’s music online, here’s where you need to go.
[BTW, if you'd like to know more about how to play jazz piano like Peter, check out his "2 minute jazz piano" video podcasts on iTunes. Free piano lessons from a guy who really knows his way around the keyboard.]
Have you ever heard music that you not only fully engages you at the moment, but which you carry with you wherever you go, even years later? Music that seeps into your bones and shapes who you become? Now that’s quite an endorsement, right. I’ve already written about a couple musicians I greatly admired, including Oscar Peterson and Pat Metheny.
Another one of my musical heroes was Wes Montgomery. He died an untimely death as a result of a heart attack in 1968, several years before I began to study jazz guitar. But I played his albums until I wore out the grooves (yes, I’m that old), especially Smokin’ at the Half Note. I worked ever so hard to do what Montgomery did, but he made it look far too easy. This is especially amazing for a guy who didn’t learn to play the guitar until he was 19, and who was self-taught at that. You can’t possibly appreciate how difficult it is to be that melodic unless you try to do it yourself, for years. You can’t understand the magic of his chordal technique and his octave solos unless you spend long hours urging your own fingers to try to emulate Wes Montgomery. There’s a lot more too. Because I worked hard at it, I learned that you can get a beautiful tone out of an electric guitar if you give up the pick and use your thumb, but I still can’t understand how he could rip off some of those quick riffs with his thumb.
For decades, I’ve listened to Wes Montgomery’s music, but I had never actually seen a video of him playing until tonight. I caught several youtubes, but most of them involved Montgomery later in his career, surrounded by (and suffocated by) too many other musicians, notably brass and string sections producers used to turn Montgomery’s jazz into pop music that the masses would better appreciate. But this video is classic Wes Montgomery playing as part of a quartet.
If you’ve never before known about Wes Montgomery, watch (but mostly listen) this video of “Round Midnight” and see whether Montgomery’s music permeates all the way down into your bones too. Ask yourself whether music can be made more compellingly than this.
To succeed as a musician who performs your own creations, you need a diverse skill set honed through hard experience. Being able to play an instrument proficiently is merely one part of that package. My recent interview of Leslie Sanazaro Santi reminded me of the many skills one must develop, as well as the immense amount energy one must invest, in order to have a successful career of performing one’s own music. Truly, the performing musician’s skill set includes virtually every one of the multiple intelligences set forth by Howard Gardner.
I first met Leslie Sanazaro more than a year ago, at a weekly farmer’s market at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis (Leslie was recently married and she is just beginning to use her new name: Leslie Sanazaro Santi). While staring at some vegetables, I heard some captivating music about 30 yards away. Helpless to resist the siren song, I walked up toward the sound-source and took a seat on a folding chair. Ten feet from me, a woman rocked on her keyboard bench as she sang and played, her whole body “dancing” with her rhythms and her foot actively stomping out the beats. It was obvious that this was a musician who truly felt her music and believed in it. She had no drum machine nor any other gimmicks. What I heard was straight-forward first-rate music. It occurred to me that she seemed too serious about her music to be playing for an audience of only a dozen people at a local market.
My brother-in-law Steve, an accomplished blues and jazz musician, soon joined me in the small audience. We agreed that we were listening to an impressive performer and composer. After staying for a full set, I told Leslie I enjoyed her music, I handed her $10 for a copy of her CD, “Stars in the Attic,” and I signed up for e-mail updates regarding her future performances.
For the next year, I received mass-distributed e-mails every week or two indicating Leslie’s playing schedule, mostly at venues in or near the City of St. Louis. Eventually, her e-mails indicated that she was going on a tour through Asia, playing dozens of shows before returning to St. Louis. In September, 2008, the e-mails indicated that Leslie had released a new CD entitled “On Your Roof.” It sounded like things were going her way.
About a month ago, I visited Leslie’s site at “Reverb Nation,” to listen to several of her new tunes from “On Your Roof.” Bottom line: this CD is impressive. Her music has ratcheted up to a new level and the clean studio product spared no attention to detail. More than ever, I was impressed with Leslie’s high quality voice work and the sparkling cadence of her lyrics. In order to fully understand my motivation for this elaborate (and yes, glowing) profile of Leslie Sanazaro Santi, take a moment to visit Reverb Nation and listen to a few of her tunes (I especially recommend listening to “Put on Your Shoes” and “Hot and Cold” to hear some of the many impressive things she can do with her voice).