MP3 Gordon Nicholson - Vidondée Soft Whispers of Jazz
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JAZZ: Piano Jazz, EASY LISTENING: Background Music
Notes for the CD âVidondée: Soft Whispers of Jazzââ¦ The Solo Piano of Gordon Nicholson
How this disc of light jazz by Gordon Nicholson came into being [text by Gordon Nicholson]:
I like Toronto jazz pianist Carol Britto's statement, after she graduated from Oscar Peterson's jazz school and had studied with Oscar!, that she needed to play for several years in piano bars and restaurants to "get her jazz 'chops' together." When I heard her play in a Toronto club, she had finished that apprenticeship, she was playing well and has been "delighting Toronto jazz audiences" ever since. I have been serving the same apprenticeship here for the past three or so years in the Swiss Romande where I live, and now am ready to record and start to have the confidence to call myself a "jazzman." Technique and experience gives one the confidence to take chances. Playing in hotels here in the Montreux area, I noticed that people, especially young people, reacted to the music more if it was simple, straight forward, tuneful. It may have been this insight that prompted me to record a disk of "Soft Whispers of Jazz."
I grew up with the piano: We always had a piano at home. I started playing it at about the age of three, picking out tunes, making up little themes. But I did not really become a pianist until much later. My mother insisted on violin lessons at the age of six because I had a good ear.
Learning jazz and playing âgigsâ as a teen: At 13, still studying the violin [Royal Conservatory of Toronto curriculum], I started listening to jazz, and playing the clarinet in a school band; two years later I was playing alto sax and starting to earn money playing in a dance orchestra. I had continued with the piano on my own, and by the end of high school was playing jazz tunes in a jazz quartet with a local sax player. University was frustrating; the only music I did, except for some summer touring with a band, and a college dixie-land group, was the odd dance gig and singing in a great 180-voice university choir.
Composing: Graduating university in science, I worked in a lab for a year then went to Berklee, Boston to pursue my dream of music studies. I studied composing, arranging, woodwinds [sax and flute], and had my first real piano lessons with a wonderful Cuban pianist named Ray who pushed me to learn scales, technical exercises, a Chopin prelude, and a hard jazz arrangement that he wrote out for me. It was ecstasy. This solidified music as a career and my love of the piano.
Using piano in college teaching: After teaching at Berklee for a couple of years, then grad studies in composition, I found a good college/university teaching job in Canada, settling in as a lecturer, jazz instructor, sax and flute player, composer, arranger, and also husband and father, the whole ball of wax. With all that, the piano remained in the background although I continued to learn and play the keyboard in writing and teaching. I leaned style and repertoire, and gradually my keyboard skills improved, and I started to do the odd piano gig with a jazz/commercial trio or as a single piano bar player, with even a bit of vocal thrown in [my favorite songs are old Tom Waits tunes!]
Studies in creativity and educationâPhD studies: As a college composition teacher, I became fascinated with the notion of creativity, for students and myselfâhow to apply and use it. I began teaching it, reading about it, going to seminars and workshops, digesting everything I could find. This led eventually to travel, to the outline for a bookâwhich evolved eventually into a PhD thesis at the Saybrook Institute in San Francisco where I researched and wrote about composing and the creative experience of musical composers.
I had studied and practiced meditation [TM, Zen] for a number of years along with bodywork (Tai Chi, Zen sitting contemplation, Bio-energetics, yoga etc.) as part of my creativity research. This helped me in many ways, including my health and my piano playing! Teaching, composing and playing became a fascinating and holistic adventure in the realm of art, body/mind/soul etc. I read Eckhart Tolle and watch his videos on Youtube lot these days as well.
When I could finally afford to quit teaching, I was able to play piano as much as I wanted, with nearly unlimited time to practice, to discover and play whatever I liked. I developed a repertoire of jazz standards that I love. This continues to today .
After about three years of piano application, the album on CD Baby (âVidondèe: Soft Whispers of Jazzâ) is the first real fruit from this labor of love. Iâm already planning a second one, particularly after the very positive feedback on this first one [see below]. As well, I am able now to better listen to great jazz piano players like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Theiry Lang [great Swiss jazz pianist], Oscar Peterson Oliver Jones.... My creativity studies and meditation certainly help in this. Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett remain my favorites.
I started playing at parties; I bought a new electric piano, which with headphones made for easier practice. Like Bill Evans, I find that playing piano alone is the best way know to really become one with music. I have played a few concerts, a number of piano bar gigs and receptions, restaurants, lunches, parties etc. I wanted to make a recording as a record of my current "chops". A former student designed a CD cover, and a trip to Copenhagen for a creativity conference in fall of 2007 resulted in some very positive feedback. I sent copies of my disk to a number of acquaintances resulting in more positive feedback. When Derek Silversâ article about CD Baby as an âIndy distributorâ appeared in âBerklee Todayâ at exactly the same time [Karl Jung has convinced me of the truth of synchronicity!] I have now become a record producer. What a large learning curve that has been [Artwork, registering tunes with SUISSA, reproducing discs, writing notes etc.]. The result is the album (Vidondèe: Soft Whispers of Jazz) that you may have already purchased or may do so from cdbaby.com. Vidondée is a cultural centre near here where I recorded this disk, on a very nice Steinway piano.
To finish up this article, Iâve included some notes below that may be of interest. The first is the âshtickââthe promo stuff I started sending to music agents that have garnered a number of lucrative piano bar gigs for me. The second is a listing of a few of the comments I received after the concert in Copenhagen. The third is a listing of some comments on my Vidondée disk from acquaintances who have listened to the CD. The fourth is the Disc Cover Notes, and the fifth is a short bio of myself.
Gordon Nicholson Le Mont-Pèlerin, Switzerland, April 30, 2008
Hereâs the âshtickââthe promo stuff I send to music agents when looking for piano bar work:
The piano styling of Gordon NICHOLSON...
A scrumptious form of light piano jazz from the great classic jazz and other composers such as Duke Ellington and Henry Mancini and incorporating works from Keith Jarrett, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Chick Corea, Michel Legrand, Pat Metheney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and many others.
Gordon NICHOLSON plays a type of piano that is NOT to be listened to so much as to be absorbed as a musical ambiance, perfect according to managers like the Mirador Hotel in Le Mont-Pèlerin, the Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland, and others in the âRivieraâ region of the Swiss Romande [Lake Geneva]. Gordon Nicholson also has a romantic side to his piano musings, which includes works such as âClair de Luneâ by Claude Debussy, âGymnopédie #1â from Eric Satie, âPavaneâ by Gabriel Fauré and âTristesseâ by Frédéric Chopin.
Here are some of the comments received from colleagues after my piano concert in Copenhagen: October 15, 2007; Copenhagen, Denmark Jazz Club concert, sponsored by ECCI X*
Gordon Nicholson played a concert on jazz piano with Danish bassist Alan Mortensen, member of the conference guest: Copenhagen Danish Big Band. Comments received from the audience participants included:
â¢ âYou are an accomplished pianist.â
â¢ âI loved your playing.â
â¢ â[It was] a great performance.â
â¢ âI really liked your jazz piano.â
â¢ âYou played really well.â
â¢ âYou are certainly a professional musician.â
â¢ âYour piano was great.â
â¢ âAre you the pianist who played last night? It was fantastic!â
*10th European Conference on Creativity and Innovation, ECCIX, Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct. 14-17.
Here are some further comments from acquaintances who have listened to âSoft Whispers of Jazz:â
â¢ I am not very well educated when it comes to jazz andâ¦ often don't get what I am listening toâ¦ [And] I was truly impressed with your CD. I got [your album] yesterday and have already listened to it several timesâ¦ several tracks I had to just sit and listeN without distraction; the music [is] thought provokingâ¦ made my mind work, in a good wayâ¦ [to] understand how certain kinds of music can make you think!!... Your CD may have made me understand why people like jazz. Thanks for opening my eyes, ears, heart and minD [with] your wonderful CD.
â¢ â¦ Most particularly, we have so enjoyed your disc of piano musicâ¦. sometimes even thrice a week... or more.
â¢ Got your CDâ¦ itâs excellentâ¦ you should be proud of this collectionâ¦ we LOVE it!!
â¢ I love the CD. Song 5 is my favorite.
â¢ Thank you very much for the CD with your piano stylingâ¦ it was as if you were right in our house playingâ¦ It is a treasure.
â¢ [French]: Un grand merci pour le disque de jazz. J'ai écouté qu'une petite partie hier soir et je me réjouis de l'écouter en entier un jour de congé. C'est reposant, surtout aprés une longue journée au travail. A bientôt ââ [English translation: A big thank you for your jazz CD. I listened to part of it yesterday evening, and I look forward to hearing the whole thing on my day off. It is relaxing, especially after a long day of work. Cheers,
â¢ Iâm enjoying [your CD] as I write this emailâ¦ I know [my ex.] was very impressed by your CD too and he listens to a lot of jazzâ¦ thanks again for the delightful CD.
â¢ Thank you a million times for this wonderful CDâ¦ I did listen to it and found the last piece very beautiful. The whole CD sounds greatâ subtleties in the swing of things.
â¢ [I want]â¦to congratulate you on the wonderful album you sent us. We LOVE it! [Our daughter] frequently requests your CD in the carâ¦ I especially love your rendition of "Here Comes the Sun"â it was my parents wedding song and it holds a special place for me.
Notes 5. Disc Cover Notes:
This is my first effort as a recording pianist. I like Bill Evans statement, on one of his early solo piano albums [Verve, 1968] about his immense pleasure and the âsense of onenessâ he felt while playing solo piano. Like Evans, I find that piano playing is the most complete musical experience I have ever hadâalthough I have played several instruments and composed and arranged a lot. To play jazz piano, I must âmulti-taskâ while improvisingâcreating with split second timing the harmony, melody, rhythm, groove, style etc., When I am âpresentâ and outside of my âintellectâ these elements synergize intuitively into the music itself and help sharpen my intuitive sense in other ways as well! One listens to the music as it happens in the moment, and in the silence of the headphones on my electric piano I have experienced like Evans, a oneness with the music. I have been rather inspired and energized by the reactions I have received with this disc. At this stage in my life, I have more time to pursue my love of the piano and I will continue with this. After jamming with members of the Danish Radio Big Band in Copenhagen in October, 2008 there, the comments from conference colleagues included: âYou are an accomplished pianistâ¦I loved your playingâ¦it was a great performanceâ¦I really liked your jazz pianoâ¦you were great last night? It was fantastic!â Other encouragement from family and friends such as: âGreat, itâs just like having you playing our piano in our living roomâ¦this is a treasureâ¦ thank you so much for sending me your wonderful CDââ¦ So here is the disc. I hope you enjoy it. Le Mont-Pèlerin, April 2008.
More notes on the disc cover, âVidondéeââ Soft Whispers of Jazz Gordon Nicholson, Solo Piano: This disc was recorded at the âVidondéeâ cultural centre in Riddes, Switzerland, January 21, 2007 by Igor Lievre, engineer, with the exception of track 13, recorded at MacEwan College, Edmonton, Canada, Jan. 22, 2000. I wanted a recording of the styles and tunes of jazz piano that I currently play and love. The first 12 tracks are jazz classics by Louis [Luiz] Bonfa, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, George Harrison, Michel Legrand, Henry Mancini, Pat Metheny, Leon Russell, Wayne Shorter. 13th is a
"planned" improvisation by myself. The mood was designed to be gentle with being sentimental, peaceful and quiet without being too mild or subdued. A variety of styles or âgroovesâ are used, with a preference for swing and the jazz waltz, a favorite of mine. Enjoy. Gordon Nicholson
Notes 5. Biography [Short] of Gordon Nicholson:
G. Gordon Nicholson, born in Alberta, Canada, received his Ph.D. from the Saybrook Institute, San Francisco in 1997âdissertation on the creative musical process He has degrees in science (physics), education, and music [B. Mus., Berklee College, Boston; M. Mus., U. Alberta]; has worked as an composer/arranger, band leader, and musical instrumentalist (piano, woodwinds), university educator, and workshop leader (creativity, intuition, jazz studies) all of his professional life. For six years from 1983 to 1989 he played every weekend (except during July and August) with a musical group (repertoireâsoft jazz) in the dining room of the Center Club in Edmonton, Canada.
His current interest includes composing and playing solo piano in a light jazz style suitable for piano lounges and hotels foyers. Over the last two-three years, after a lifetime of playing jazz piano, he has developed a repertoire, in his own style, of more than 100 standard songs from the very best American/British jazz and pop styles repertoire (swing, Latin, ballad, rock, jazz-waltz, funkâ¦), as well as a few of his own compositions. Standards include selections from such composers as the "Beatles" (Lennon/McCartney and George Harrison), Chick Corea, Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Michel Legrand, Henry Mancini, and many others.
Gordon has traveled widely in North America, Europe, Asia (India, Bali, Thailand) and Australia. Premières of his musical compositions have occurred in Vevey (near Lausanne, Switzerland), in Canada (Edmonton, Banff, Ottawa, Montreal), as well as in Europe (Poland and Belgium), on Canadian national radio [CBC] and Alberta provincial radio [CKUA].
Gordon is a member of the ECCS (Edmonton Composers Concert Society), an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Center (CMC), and affiliate of SOCAN and SUISSA. He is married to Elisabeth Rinsoz originally of Vevey, Switzerland, and now lives in Le Mont-Pélerin near Vevey.
You can find Gordon Nicholson at the Google search engine [search G. Gordon Nicholson] or visit www.eccsociety.com/ [composers]. He may be reached by mail at Ch. du Pèlerin 8, 1801 Le Mont-Pélerin, Suisse (Switzerland). Visit ggnicholson at myspace.com.[search NicholSong, or firstname.lastname@example.org], and now on cdbaby.com. Reach Gordon at email@example.com.
People who are interested in Keith Jarrett Oscar Peterson Bill Evans should consider this download.
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