reverse threading

the path back is the path forward

True to its Art and Not Prissy

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yamahapianoThe piano at Northwestern University was a Steinway D…a beautiful old 9 foot instrument, with depths and trebles on which hundreds of artists had performed. The case had seen better days; the bench had raw splintering wood in a few spots, but the instrument itself was rising to the occasion as, i suspect, it always had. Its quiet resonance, its deep voice made it worthy of grand stages. I was exhilarated with the opportunity to record on this piano…I felt a synergy with it. And I was so ready. The energy around a first album is unparalleled. In short, you really have no idea how much you are going to feel..the anticipation, the fear, the excitement, the self-consciousness, the confidence, the pressure of playing, the joy of playing, the retrospective re-hashing of everything you put down on tape, the letting-go of the re-hashing of everything you put down on tape…

We had the foresight to hire an excellent piano technician to be present during the whole process in Evanston. This instrument had some personality – a little curmudgeonly to say the least. Zingers and thudding hammers and some intonation idiosyncrasies were the challenges of the moments there, but our tech was on top of it all. The result, after all those long hours, was a recording of a piano with great history, demonstrating its strengths and sneaking in a few weaknesses. (Hmm….not unlike ourselves, eh?)

I recorded two more albums on Steinway D’s…both in Milwaukee in a studio that didn’t have an air conditioner leaking into the space (although I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything!) The studio was climate-controlled and quiet and I had no idea if it was day or night as we spent long long hours recording in a space with no windows. Once again I discovered a piano with a few quirks; once again we had our skilled technician with us.

The piano gods of the day were people like George Winston and Jim Brickman, John Tesh and Yanni, Suzanne Ciani and David Lanz. With the exception of George, all of these artists were Yamaha artists. (Many others (who are singer-songwriters as well as pianists) join their ranks: Elton John, Sarah McLachlan, Phil Vassar, Norah Jones, Barry Manilow… ) Many of them recorded on CFIII’s, which is Yamaha’s 9 foot grand, or the C7, Yamaha’s 7’6″ grand, both fantastic instruments.

It was time to record the next album – THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY – my fourth.

THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY my fourth album

my fourth album

And by that time I was really honored to be on this same exclusive Yamaha Artist roster. There are a mere 88 contemporary piano recording artists on this roster. I am truly proud of this association; I have had wonderful relationships with the pianos and with some remarkable people. There have been unexpected and warm gifts of friendship. There have been pianos I have fallen in love with. My Yamaha fills my writing studio; it fills me with inspiration…

I have to say that I haven’t encountered a grumpy Yamaha…they are reliable in the studio (and on stage) and have a personality so worthy of this emotional, evocative style of music. Yes, the tech was around, but not 24/7 anymore and the piano responded with the consistency of a workhorse. Each piano that has been transported in for me, each piano that has been housed in a venue or recording studio, that big grand in my own writing studio…these are instruments I am aligned with….that perseverance, that dependability, that…sisu! Yes…these pianos have sisu! A fortitude that is authentic and not high-maintenance, true to its art and not prissy. And ohmygosh, with such a richness…

My sweet sixteen(th) album will, of course, be recorded on a Yamaha. It will be a compilation of songs with an organic layer cake of piano, voice, cello, consonant-timbred stringed instruments, and the kind of hand percussion that you can feel keeping beat inside your body. I feel great anticipation as I write for this album. And fear, and excitement. And self-consciousness and confidence. And pressure and joy. And I will hash and re-hash and re-hash again. But, along the way now, arriving here, I have learned the art of letting go…the art of setting free Art..the moment you say to yourself, “It’s enough. It’s time.”

kerri’s music is available on iTunes

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