The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Bim Strasberg’

Wives and lovers

Posted by keithosaunders on April 8, 2011

A few years ago I went into the studio with Bim Strasberg — one of my favorite bassists — to record a few tracks to be used largely for promotion.  We did them in an afternoon, and I was very happy with how they turned out.  It shows you how easy it is to connect with a musician that you are comfortable with, with whom you have played extensively.

Wives and Lovers is a song from the ’60s composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  It contains some of the most politically incorrect lyrics that you are likely to come across.  This song would be ideal for source music in the AMC series, Mad Men.  

Here is a sample:

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I’m warning you…

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again

And so it goes…lucky for us that we didn’t have a singer on the date, and that our wives don’t know this song.

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Group

Posted by keithosaunders on January 19, 2011

Here is a track from my trio CD, Lost In Queens.  I am very proud of date and think it is a good representation of my trio, which consists two of my all-time favorite musicians — Bim Strasberg on bass and Taro Okamoto on drums.

The Group

The CD is available here.

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Play me, I’m Yours

Posted by keithosaunders on July 2, 2010

A few weeks ago Bkivey asked me what I think of the art installation which has brought 60 pianos to public spaces in New York City.   The pianos, painted in bold colors, are surprisingly inviting — they practically scream out, “PLAY ME!”   

The timing of Bkivey’s request involved a two-part coincidence.  I had arrived home from a gig with a bass player friend of mine, Bim Strasberg, who had just been telling me of the art exhibit.  THis was the first I’d heard of it.  Bim had mixed feelings.  He liked the idea of the pianos being there but wasn’t thrilled with the idea of people walking by and banging on it. 

Part two of the coincidence took place a few hours later in the evening when I was taking my dog for her late-night walk.  Our route takes us by Gantry Park, which is a waterfront park on the Queens side of the East River overlooking the east side of Manhattan.  As we were walking by the park I noticed one of the pianos in the plaza.

It was an old Spinet, barely in tune with a thin tone.  It was missing a hammer on the D an octave above middle C.  You can imagine what the outside elements , especially being next to a body of water, does to a piano.  It had a plastic tarp to protect it from the elements but the tarp had been thrown, or blown onto the ground. 

This was right up my alley!  Nobody can play an out of tune, rickety old piano like me.  You have to be able to deal with these warhorses if you are going to be a jazz pianist in New York.  I have just described the condition of 70% of the pianos in jazz clubs.

And wouldn’t you know it but  I couldn’t resist sitting down and playing a few tunes.  How often was I going to be able to play music with the Manhattan skyline as my backdrop?  It was a warm, balmy night and even though it was already one in the morning there were still a few people out and about.  One couple was dancing and another sat a few feet behind me making out. 

 Before I knew it a half hour had passed and I decided to stop.  I sat down a few feet from the piano and watched as others passed by and took her for a spin.  In the day time the Gantry Park piano is hardly ever vacant.  People are drawn to it like investment bankers to a Yankee game.  There is something cathartic about the instrument being available for all, to play or to listen to.  Sure it receives its fair share of abuse, but that cacophony of the pounding blends in just fine with the urban landscape.  It’s OK….in moderation.

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One night at Small’s

Posted by keithosaunders on May 13, 2010

There are less than three months remaining in my 26 year stint in New York City.  To this end almost every gig I do is a last of some sort.  On Tuesday I had my last trio gig at Small’s, the popular Village basement club which, for the past 17 years has been home base to some of the city’s best musicians.  These are people I have had the pleasure of knowing, hanging out with, as well as playing with.  To name a few:  Joe Magnarelli, Sasha Perry, Neal Minor, Grant Stewart, and Chris Byars.

Small’s has a vibe to it.  It is a serious vibe — the unspoken sentiment is that if you gig there you had better be dealing.  At times it can feel clubby, or clique-ish, but no more so than other jazz clubs in New York.  Overriding all is the feeling of reverence and respect for the music that has existed at Small’s since its inception.   It is a comfortable place with excellent acoustics and I have felt at home there for the past several years.

All of this is a long preamble to stating how important it was for me to have a good last gig there.  I needed to take a positive memory with me out west because I know that may well be quite some time before I find another club that I care about so much. 

Tuesday was one of the rare nights that I was able to execute my ideas with a fluid connection between trio, audience, and myself.  I felt that I had all the chops I needed, but I also felt the ability to leave space and not to overplay.  There was little of the self-consciousness that can sometimes invade my playing when I am concerned with extraneous distractions, and I was able to interject my personality into the music. 

As is the case with my playing I always can find places for self-criticism and the other night was no exception.  The difference was that I felt that what came out of the piano was a true representation of where I am at musically and emotionally.  I was comfortable in my skin and I liked what I played — what more could I ask for?

I owe a great part of this feeling of comfort to the musicians that I was performing with.  Bim Strasberg, Taro Okamoto, and I have been playing as a trio for the past six years and we not only get along personally, but musicially.  Not having to worry about the hookup is a luxury.  

There’s something about having a working band that I have always loved.  I like the ease of calling tunes and the sense of camaraderie.  That’s not to say that great things do not occur with musicians that you only play with sporadically.  Sometimes the newness of the hookup can provide electricity and freshness.  But if I have my choice I will always opt for a working band. 

 In New York I am a small fish in a big pond — the biggest pond, in fact.  In Smalls I am also a small fish.  Almost every pianist who plays there is a motherfucker.  Although I am not the biggest fish, I take great pride in being among these marvelous musicians.  I am one of them.  If it took 26 years to feel this way, well it was worth the wait.  

Tuesday was a good night.

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