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Re: Cocktail piano
#1142416 12/12/07 08:03 AM
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check this guy out..gives a good description of cocktail piano..listen to the "tenderly" sample
I'm somehow hearing a "bass" sound?
http://cocktailpiano.com/volume_1.html

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Re: Cocktail piano
#1142417 12/12/07 04:41 PM
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I'm just an adult beginner, but this style of playing is where I want to head.

Any recommendations on books?

Thanks.
David


"The human brain can be quite wasteful." Chang, Fundamentals of Piano Practice
Re: Cocktail piano
#1142418 12/12/07 08:34 PM
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smile


Jazz piano Instructor. Technical Editor for Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book". Studied with Mark Levine, Art Lande & Mark Isham (1981-1990). Also: Barry Harris and Monty Alexander (1993-present)
Re: Cocktail piano
#1142419 12/13/07 06:54 PM
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My dad sent me to a musician friend of his who played for cocktail bars and such! Best thing I ever did was take lessons from him! He plays lots of gigs, weddings, private parties, you name it!

Anyways, his favorite saying was, "An amateur practices till he gets it right, but a professional practices it till he can't get it wrong!"

And he once told me that he has 450 songs ready and memorized whenever he needs them! Mostly standards from fake books. Should also add that his rhythm and timing are absolutely amazing!

450! is that possible!


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Re: Cocktail piano
#1142420 12/13/07 11:26 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Johnny-Boy:
I've always had a yearning to play cocktail piano on a cruise ship like the "Love Boat", but settled for a smoke-filled tavern with a sultry lounge singer like this:
[b]"Bluer Than This"

Lyrics: Cal Francis DiFalco
Music: John Lawrence Schick
Sung by Teresa
http://www.artistcollaboration.com/~johnny-boy/bluer.mp3 [/b]
incredible performance by pianist and vocalist alike!!

Re: Cocktail piano
#1142421 12/14/07 05:16 PM
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Thanks Agathis! I'll pass the word to Teresa.

Best, John [Linked Image]


Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!
Re: Cocktail piano
#1142422 12/15/07 03:03 PM
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thumb


Jazz piano Instructor. Technical Editor for Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book". Studied with Mark Levine, Art Lande & Mark Isham (1981-1990). Also: Barry Harris and Monty Alexander (1993-present)
Re: Cocktail piano
#1142423 12/15/07 03:17 PM
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I always tested the club's piano out before I accepted gigs. Probably a good idea.

Otherwise, have a Yamaha digital warming up in the bullpen.

Good luck Rintincop! Maybe you'll get lucky and it will be a great piano.

Best, John [Linked Image]


Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!
Re: Cocktail piano
#1142424 12/15/07 03:48 PM
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Jazz piano Instructor. Technical Editor for Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book". Studied with Mark Levine, Art Lande & Mark Isham (1981-1990). Also: Barry Harris and Monty Alexander (1993-present)
Re: Cocktail piano
RinTin #1170056 03/27/09 09:25 PM
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I'd like to re-start this thread. Does anyone now have any reccomendations on books (music or text) to learn about cocktail piano playing?


Working On:

BACH: Invention No. 13 in a min.
GRIEG: Notturno Op. 54 No. 4
VILLA-LOBOS: O Polichinelo

Next Up:

BACH: Keyboard Concerto in f minor
Re: Cocktail piano
survivordan #1170184 03/28/09 09:50 AM
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Hi Everyone!

I've been playing cocktail piano for decades. Here's the introduction to my book Piano Girl—it sort of sums up ho I feel about the way I make my living.

Piano Girl: A Memoir (Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard)
©2005 Robin Meloy Goldsby, All Rights Reserved
Excerpt courtesy of Backbeat Books

Introduction
Life from the Other Side of the Steinway

It’s not always a Steinway. Sometimes it’s an ugly-looking, beautiful-sounding white Bösendorfer concert grand or a Yamaha conservatory grand with a high-gloss mirrored surface, so polished that I can see the mood of the evening staring back at me. Sometimes the instrument I play barely qualifies as a piano. Sometimes it’s an Army-surplus spinet made by a firm that is a subsidiary of a toy company. Sometimes it’s a beat-up upright piano with four broken strings—and when I press a key I can hear several distinct tones fluttering together and laughing at me with their out-of-tuneness. Sometimes it really is the perfect Steinway Model B, a seven-foot grand with a sound warm enough to make me stay at the piano forever, just listening. I play. I make music. I am the tall blond woman in the strapless cocktail dress, and I sit in the corner and play the piano.

I didn’t set out to be a cocktail pianist. But here I am, wearing something black, a little eyeliner, a little lipstick, high heels. I’m not Shirley Horn, or Diana Krall, or Marian McPartland, or Bobby Short in a blond wig. Not even close. But I work all the time and I’m pretty good at what I do.

There are many terms for my profession. I am called a cocktail pianist, a bar pianist, a hotel pianist, and a lounge pianist. I perform background music that enhances a dinner, a lunch, a chilled prosecco; or atmosphere music meant to embellish a business meeting, a wedding, an illicit affair—without getting in the way. I play music that is comforting, gentle enough to pacify, melodic enough to nudge my audience into the folds of their own memories.

I’ve spent many years underestimating the validity of my job. I’m not really a bar pianist, I tell myself, because I want to be more than that. I’m a student. I’m an actor. I’m a writer. I’m a composer. I’m a single woman living in New York City standing on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I’m a citizen of the world. I’m happy. I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I’m all of these things, true, true, true. But I’m able to be all of these things because playing the piano in a hotel continues to pay the bills. Now, with the wisdom of a maturity that was bound to catch up with me, I realize that being a cocktail pianist is a lovely way to make a living. It started out as a way to earn money for college. It ended up being my profession for thirty years and counting.

I play medleys of great songs and obnoxious songs and make them all sound, well, nice. Plus I’ve been questionably blessed with the ability to be polite, to smile, and to remember the first names of the customers who stray into the joints where I’m playing. These days, some of the joints are castles in Europe. I’ve traveled a long way from the Nantucket Club Car and the Redwood Motor Inn on Banksville Road in Pittsburgh where I had my first steady gigs as a teenager, but basically the scene is the same. Fancier clothes, slightly better piano, same ratio of lunatics to normal people. I play.

Sometimes I’m treated like visiting royalty from a mysterious land, flown to the job in a private jet, showered with roses, fine wine, and compliments from people whose pashmina socks cost more than my entire wardrobe. Sometimes I feel like a frazzled waitress with eighty-eight keys strapped around my neck, taking orders from drunken shoe salesmen who would prefer to see me go-go dance in a green fringed bikini on top of the piano rather than make any sense out of the instrument in front of me.

Every job presents the chance to be a musical fly on the wall—providing a piano score for life as it’s served, straight-up with a side of olives, to the droves of people who pass through the world’s bars and restaurants. Over the years I’ve been appalled, attacked, blown away by kindness, cajoled into fits of giggles, and moved to tears by the tiny dramas that unfold before my eyes and ears. I cry. I laugh. Laughter is a kind of music—the best kind. I’ve always wanted to write the score for a film. But maybe this is better. I’m writing and playing music for life, as it happens. It’s like recording live on tape, without the tape.

One day I’m eighteen years old, sitting down to play my first job. Startled, I wake up on a bright spring morning and realize that I’m forty-six, and that my entire adult life can be documented by a series of forty-minute sets and twenty-minute breaks. I fret about missed opportunities—how I’ve spent the peak years of my life behind an instrument that fights back more often than it complies with my wishes—and the way real time slips away from me like runaway triplets at a children’s piano recital.

I have moments of artistic satisfaction. Many of them. On a typical night—in between requests and idle chit-chat with guests from, say, Helsinki, or Bogata, or Hackensack—I play the music that I want to play, the way I want to play it. I feel peaceful, exhilarated, and sure that I’ve chosen the right profession. It’s almost a magical feeling, and I allow it to sweep me away. Then some drunk-on-his-ass sales rep from a surgical supply company sends me a cocktail napkin with a request for “Memory” from Cats, a twenty-dollar bill, and—as an afterthought—his room number. I check out the man who has sent the note. He is sprawled on the burgundy velvet banquette, smoking a cigar and drinking a brandy. He looks like a cross between a sloth and a walrus. I play the song, keep the money, and make sure a taxi is waiting for me at quitting time.

I go home, slightly amused, a little disgusted. But I come back the next day to play again. In fact, I look forward to it. The smells of cigarette smoke, grilled steak, and too much Chanel No. 5 waft in my direction like a big cloud of fairy dust blown in from a distant yet familiar planet. I sit at the piano. The customers briefly acknowledge my presence, then resume talking. It’s time for my first set. I place my hands on the instrument, not quite sure what to play. I never know what the first song will be until exactly this moment. In front of me is a maze of ebony and ivory, but I don’t see the keys anymore. I see the faces of 30 years of guests, friends, bartenders, and waiters morphing into an impressionistic canvas of something remarkable.

So I play a song to remember.


Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: Cocktail piano
Piano Girl RMG #1170234 03/28/09 11:38 AM
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That was touching, Piano Girl. I especially liked the part about 'runaway triplets at a childrens' piano recital'!


Working On:

BACH: Invention No. 13 in a min.
GRIEG: Notturno Op. 54 No. 4
VILLA-LOBOS: O Polichinelo

Next Up:

BACH: Keyboard Concerto in f minor
Re: Cocktail piano
survivordan #1170719 03/29/09 09:12 AM
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Piano Girl, I've played cocktail piano for almost 30 years, and you've summed it up exactly as I picture it. I like the sentence about not knowing what your first song in the set will be until the moment comes. I don't do any forward planning myself, either. Just sit down at the piano and play whatever I feel at that point in time.

This can be the most soul-destroying job of all time, especially when you know that nobody's really listening to you, the instrument is crappy, and there are plenty of kids running about, making enough noise to raise the dead.

On the other hand, what other job enables me to take a 15 or 20-minute break every hour on the hour, provides me with a good meal, doesn't restrict my repertoire, and pays the bills?


Re: Cocktail piano
Philip Yeoh #1170732 03/29/09 10:04 AM
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You bring a smile to the dreary numbness of life..and that always a welcome gift..:)

Re: Cocktail piano
Bob Newbie #1171261 03/30/09 08:09 AM
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Thank you, fellow cocktail musicians!

One night last week, just as I was sitting down at the piano, a nervous private party client asked me exactly what i was going to play (the castle lobby was full of stuffy men in fancy suits, sipping champagne and whispering to each other).

I said: "I have no idea." The guy got a panicked look on his face, so I added, "But don't worry, it will be perfect."

That kind of sums it up.



Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: Cocktail piano
Piano Girl RMG #1171626 03/30/09 07:08 PM
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How good do you have to be to do be a cocktail pianist? It seems to me you would have to know a lot of tunes, be able to melodically improvise, and play by ear so you could get through any tunes that you don't know well. I'm guessing you probably wouldn't need to play anything up tempo.


Monk - Boo Boo's Birthday
Bach - Two Part Invention No.11
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Re: Cocktail piano
survivordan #1171654 03/30/09 07:57 PM
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Let me see if I understand your view of cocktail piano. Is it essentially playing standards as a piano solo, like on a cruise ship in the evening? If so, then I do have some suggestions.

Do you play be ear, or do you read music? Again, the book suggestions would be somewhat different.

One of the basic books that I like better than most is "All About the Piano" by Mark Harrison. In fact, he writes a lot of good books. But he does expect you to read music from the staff.

Let me know the answers to the above questions and I'll try to offer more choices.

Hop


HG178, Roland FP-5, Casio PX 130
Re: Cocktail piano
survivordan #1173708 04/03/09 08:00 AM
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I like your idea to restart this thread to focus on books to help us achieve cocktain piano proficiency.

Do you want to do it?


HG178, Roland FP-5, Casio PX 130
Re: Cocktail piano
Hop #1523111 09/26/10 02:14 PM
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Just thought I'd give this thread a *bump*. grin How do you all define "cocktail piano"? Right-hand octave/chords, locked hands block chords, lots of runs & fills, arpeggios, stride style, cross hands? What else? smile

Last edited by Elssa; 09/26/10 07:32 PM.
Re: Cocktail piano
Amnesia #1523313 09/26/10 09:27 PM
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I'll never forget years ago there was a lounge/bar across the street from a music store I had a teaching job at. After work, at 6-7Pm, I would sometimes go over there and have a drink. They had a somewhat large older grand piano in the corner of the bar in the reddish, amber spotlight. But for some reason every time I went over there, no one was ever playing cocktail piano.

Anyway, I had a sip of a cocktail and asked the bartender who was playing and he said guys would come and go. He asked me if I possibly played cocktail styles because he knew I was teaching across the street and I lied and told him I did. Uh-oh, I just stepped in quicksand. He then said, "why don't you sit down and play us a tune?" I asked him what to play and he said, "just whatever you want to play."

I had a few tunes memorized, wish I had my RealBook, so I took a few more sips of my drink and went over to sit down at the grand and see how it sounded. I played a few chords and the action and sound of the piano were good. But then my mind went blank, what do I play? Well, "Feelings" popped in my mind. There were about 4-5 older guys sitting, sipping cocktails at the bar. After playing about 8 bars, these guys stopped talking and actually seemed to be listening. Then after I finished the tune, the waitress came over and whispered in my ear that all the men at the bar wanted to buy me a drink. Like 5 cocktails!!! I thought she was kidding!!!

So I said, "ok, how about 5 JW REDs on the rocks with a couple of Perrier chasers." In a few minutes as I'm into another tune, here comes the waitress carrying a tray with 5 beautiful cocktails, enough for a whole happy hour. I have never ordered 5 cocktails at one time, ever!!

Well, I took one sip of one of the drinks and it tasted like a double. I kept playing, drinking, playing, drinking, until all of a sudden I started seeing a 2 keyboard moving piano. The people in the bar clapped after each tune. My head was spinning after about 30-40 minutes and just in my second JW. Uh, break time. I left a tip for the waitress and got up.

I grabbed a drink and went over to thank the guys for my drinks and the bartender for letting me sit in. I left the rest of the drinks on the piano, not intending to finish them, had enough booze for a week. Then the bartender asked me if I wanted a job playing there one night a week. I told him maybe and he said the manager was off that night and for me to come back to play again so he could hear me.

But honestly, I didn't want the gig because I always played with a band rather than solo and really didn't feel I knew enough tunes for 3-4 sets. So I waited a few weeks, went back to the bar and the manager happened to be in. I sat down at the bar and the bartender said, "feel free to play a few tunes for us." I sat down, played a few tunes and the manager flagged me over and offered me the gig. I asked him if I could think about it and he told me, sure.

I ended up not doing the gig because I felt I didn't have enough cocktail tunes ready to play solo. I look back on it and have no regrets. But I'm still not a cocktail pianist and prefer to play with a trio or band.

Throughout my time I have heard cocktail pianists on the Liberace side, many arpeggios and classical overtones, jazz influenced cocktail pianists ala Bill Evans or Peter Nero, pop oriented cocktail pianists like Cy Walter, Roger Williams, or Eddie Duchin. Cocktail piano can define several styles.

katt


Last edited by nitekatt2008z; 09/26/10 11:11 PM.
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