Something about New Orleans piano, to me, is more welcoming than any other kind of piano playing. The rhythms almost demand the piano be played using certain intervals, chords and licks. The harmonies are usually blues-based. This music is made for partying. And everyone is invited. I think it is a great way to learn how much fun playing piano really can be. If you were raised on Mozart and Bach, …. hold on to your klangfarbenmelodie, here comes Dr. John.
Books have been written on this style of playing. I’m talking about Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Harry Connick Jr., A.J. Croche, Little Feat and more. There are plenty of recordings of these guys to listen to. So I’ll just focus on what listening to these guys did for me.
Dr. John always said he was influenced by Professor Longhair and if you listen to that, you’ll see the similarities. Harry Connick Jr. credits these guys and more for his playing influences. These are some of my favorite piano players.
Oscar Peterson could boogie. Bill Evans could boogie. Just because it’s a crowd pleaser doesn’t mean you are selling out to boogie a little. Having a little fun is okay sometimes. You probably should not try it at the end of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhopsody No. 2 . But then again, Liszt might not mind. He was all about working hard and playing hard.
I’ll probably write more about this style and go into a few individual players’ in future posts. In the meantime, go get yourself some Dr. John!
Obviously, we don't know everything. But we do tend to think differently. Here are some of my thoughts on piano and maybe some on life. I play piano for Tracy Lawrence, produce new artists, write and practice piano.