My experience as a pianist began and ended early on. I hated practicing my lessons as much as most boys do. Until one day it dawned on me that the Young Minister's Wife sitting close to me on the piano bench was more than fetching. Much more. She also smelled quite a bit like Ivory soap. These epiphanies not only inspired me to great rehearsal effort but introduced me to the brutalizing concepts of tactile and olfactory Attention Deficit Disorder.
In the event, my YMW eventually told me that I had to develop my own way of playing the notes. My own "voice". Dazzled with Ivory soap, I had no idea what she was talking about. Then my family moved. Sold the old upright piano. I never played again. It was only ten years of lessons expended. Nothing, really.
Much later, I became a jazz fan. The idea of a player's "voice" came to me anew. Via fellows named Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Buddy Rich, and others. The way a master musician can play the same instrument as a million others. In a completely distinctive way.
Sometimes the "voice" can be circumstantial. A reflection of the player's life and mood at the moments the notes are struck. That sort of voice can be downright awful. Or transcendent. Opening a window into the hearts of both the musician and the listener. This wonderful sort of voice is demonstrated throughout Dave Brubeck's "Indian Summer" album.
Brubeck made this album at the age of 86. And that is in large part the beauty of the work. Both the selections, and more important the voice of these songs reflect the thoughts of a man whose life has been well lived. Looking back.
Haunting music. Not ponderous but rather pondering. Thoughtful. Longing. Sad. The play list says it all starting with You'll Never Know. Memories of You. So Lonely. Georgia On My Mind. Thank You. Then, at the end where it should be, Indian Summer. Which leaves you sitting staring into space. Looking back.
The entire album is wonderful. Evidence of a man playing, and seeing, the music in the lovely slanting light of Autumn.
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