You would have asked me twenty five years ago if I will ever be playing another instrument, I would have said no. At the time, my life was consumed by the drums. I was, at every second, thinking about it in one form or another.
Then came the piano. The beautiful piano. That’s the first one that made me aware of everything that complements rhythm. The melody, the harmony, the orchestration, the history. I was reading exercises that Mozart himself had worked on! I never encountered anything like that in drums. The oldest reference is from early New Orleans music. But, in piano, that trill, yes! that one, had been the trill of choice of Mozart.
I studied the piano. Hard. 5 hours a day. No skipping, no complaining. For years. I went into the flesh of it. How to read the bass clef, how to improvise, how to compose, how to shape a phrase. So many subjects, so many treasures.
At the time, I also started singing. It was a natural thing to do. You got Autumn Leaves, you see. It’s a beautiful melody. Heard it in my youth. One of the few songs the French have a claim on. And I heard it with the lyrics. The French lyrics. They were written by a 20th century poet: Jacques Prevert. Gorgeous song. So I sang it. Badly, out of tune, no tone, no pronunciation, no breath, nothing. But, oh! what fun!
That was my second instrument.
My kids were growing up at the time. We all started to take voice lessons. It was fun. The children hauling at the moon, me croaking like an old frog. I sang some jazz, since that’s what I was studying. Might as well. But I also dug into the modern repertoire. “I will survive” fit my voice very nicely. A lot of Leonard Cohen too. I’m a bass, going towards baritone. Anyway: low. I didn’t transpose. At the time, I didn’t know how to. If the song was not in the exact key that I could sing: I wasn’t singing it.