Category Archives: piano playing

A Different Spin on Easy Living

It is hard to believe that in nearly 10 years of writing articles and recording songs for this Conversations at the Piano blog, I have never featured today’s selection, Easy Living. Part of the reason for this is that the song’s composers, Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, were not familiar enough to me to warrant a series.

Well as the saying goes: “hindsight has 20 X 20 vision”. Guess what else they wrote? Surprise, surprise, they are responsible for Bob Hope’s famous theme song, Thanks for the Memory as well as Jack Benny’s theme song, Love in Bloom and more than 50 other songs that were featured in films during the 1930s and early 1940s.

In addition to my songwriter identification oversight, I hadn’t realized that Easy Living is also considered a jazz standard. Among those who have recorded this wonderful piece are well known jazz instrumentalists and vocalists including, Miles Davis, Paul Desmond, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson.

Despite this illustrious list, my exposure and “relationship” to Easy Living came from listening to one of the pianists who inspired my early solo jazz piano playing, Dave McKenna. I remember listening to this standard and several others on Dave’s cassette album, Left Handed Complement.

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Auld Lang Syne Anew

For quite some time, the term “Bucket List” has garnered a lot of interest. But the items on your list, e.g. sail around the world, swim with dolphins, go on a safari, etc are usually one-time adventures rather than something you want to bring into your daily life.

Most of us have lived long enough to have made countless New Year’s resolutions and then broke them fairly soon. One reason for this is that you and I undoubtedly make too many resolutions, which makes it impossible to keep all of them. Many years ago, author Stephen R. Covey said “The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”

It seems to me that when we make several “good” resolutions, we do try very hard to keep them, e.g. lose weight, stop smoking, etc. However, as time goes on, we can’t keep all of those “balls in the air” and one by one we give up on each resolution because our focus is divided, our interest wanes and our energy dissipates.

Let’s change the scenario by looking for the best New Year’s resolution. That’s actually quite challenging, because we have to dig deep within us to uncover what’s below the surface.

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The Christmas Song
Chestnuts Still Roasting on an Open Fire

It’s difficult to believe that it was a little more than 9 years ago that I introduced my first Holiday Favorites blog series. The second selection in that series also happens to be today’s tune, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).

When it came to selecting holiday favorites to share with you this season, it seemed like a good idea to look back to the earliest selections. But, doing them in a different style as a way of inspiring and energizing my own piano playing took a bit of experimentation. As you might expect, I had to think outside the box in order to do this. The recording for my previous post I’ll Be Home for Christmas featured a rendition that transformed this traditional ballad into a jazz waltz.

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Chestnuts Still Roasting on an Open Fire

I’ll Be Home for Christmas and a Special Invitation

Before getting into the heart of today’s blog post, I would like to invite each of you to a special program designed to get you in the mood for Christmas. Join us for a wonderful program that includes the opportunity for you to sing familiar Christmas Carols.

34th Annual Christmas Choral Worship Service

Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM

At the

Hartford Street Presbyterian Church

99 Hartford Street, Natick, MA 01760

Featuring the
HSPC Chancel Choir
West African Alleluia Choir
Congregational Singing of familiar Christmas Carols

Special Guest Artist, David Summer-trumpet & flute

Directed by Diana Mascari-piano

It’s difficult to believe that the last time I played and wrote about today’s featured selection, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, was in December of 2009. Our Hudson Studio location had been open for a year and a half and in the future would come the beautiful Yamaha P22 Studio Upright that we have there now. In addition, another instrument arrived a couple of years later. It is the Yamaha 6’1” grand piano that I play every Sunday at the Hartford Street Presbyterian Church in Natick, MA and on which our students perform at our Annual Natick Studio Recital.

Not only have there been the addition of these new wonderful pianos on which to play, but there has been a lot of musical growth that our demonstrated by our piano students. At the same time, I’ve found my own musical inspiration coming from listening to more pianists and by revisiting some of my favorite tunes.

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