Writings about Music
Piano Improvisation Series
Thank You Bill and Jocelyn
Michael Robinson in the piano room of Lee Konitz's Manhattan apartment
When I first learned how Bill Evans refused to divulge his pianistic secrets to another player because he feared this would deprive that person of the enormously pleasurable (and perilous!) experience of developing a personal approach, I thought it was an excuse, and Bill was being miserly. Now, that impression has changed drastically. All it really takes is to actually spend consistent time playing the piano, together with nurturing one's musical spirit and knowledge through listening to and studying music with creative substance, to see that Evans was not joking. Most recently, the influence of Lennie Tristano, the teacher of my primary jazz teacher, Lee Konitz, arose spontaneously without any conscious premeditation.
Jocelyn is the person who first asked me to play standards for her once a week, a custom that began my pianistic explorations, including her most kind encouragement. I've only played standards for her, this being her favorite music. Sometimes she sings along and often taps.
While Meruvina composition and performance remains my primary musical avenue, improvising on the piano is engaging, too. Now, for the first time since childhood and teenage years, I actually have a keyboard at home, if an inexpensive electronic one.
Michael Robinson's Pasta Meruvina
While my piano playing is admittedly in relatively early stages, it is hopefully in my own gradually emerging style, as I've begun to follow the sage advice of Bill Evans, showing another side of my musicality, again hopefully of interest both by itself and in the tradition of composers who also play piano.
Released today are three new albums of piano improvisations played on a Yamaha upright: Seventh Avenue, Weaver's Loom, and Distanced, together with renaming and placing anew on YouTube all the selections from my first piano improvisation album, Mystic Toy, rescuing those efforts from their original overly technical names.
- Michael Robinson, October 2019, Los Angeles
© 2019 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).