My Learning Journey Part 3

Lightglobe Moment !

Nat King Cole Trio

Then two things happened in rapid succession.
Firstly, a new neighbour played me a recording [ a 78 RPM ] of the King Cole Trio which comprised Nat King Cole piano and vocal, Wesley Prince bass and vocal, and Oscar Moore guitar and vocal. It was the most exciting and thrilling music I’d ever heard in my short life.

The subtleties of their playing and their innate sense of rhythm spurred me on to learn more. I really wish the name of that particular album could be remembered as I have quite a few of the trio on CD and would love to create a shrine to the original. It was an intense life changing experience.

 Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

Secondly, like most boys of the era, I had a big crush on Marilyn Monroe who had just starred in The River Of No Return. The local music store had a sheet music department where I found and bought the theme song of the movie. Then, whenever Dad was at work on afternoon shift I practiced that song until it was a polished piece. My Mum was delighted at my renewed interest, and encouraged me to learn other popular songs, until we decided to show Dad what I’d been doing. The evening recital of River Of No Return and others, was received most enthusiastically and with approval. My Dad said ” If that’s the sort of music you like, I’ll see if I can find you a teacher of that style.” An engineer where he worked played in local dance bands and hotels. Enter teacher number four.

Hello the Shefte Rapid Method and Joe Rea.

Joe was a rotund Irishman with a fabulous sense of humor, wonderful swinging style, and an extremely loud left foot which he used to keep time. The whole house shook when Joe played [ or kept time when I played ] The Shefte Rapid  Method he used as a teaching manual demonstrated what was called “ STRIDE “ piano in the style of the great ragtime pianists such as James P Johnston, Thomas “ Fats “ Waller, Teddy Wilson, and the genius of all of them Art Tatum. My excitement at being able to play in this style was beyond my wildest dreams, and within two years I’d developed enough technique, endurance and repertoire to be asked to play in a local dance band “ Paddy O’ Dowd’s Millionaires “ where we played arrangements with the five piece band. Learnt to sight read charts ! I was now competing with Joe for gigs !

Learning by Listening to Recordings

Miles Davis – Round About Midnight

Joe introduced me to something my classical teachers had neglected – by listening to other players such as I had with the King Cole Trio in my introduction to swinging music, my musical education was stimulated to a high degree. To this end I bought my first Jazz LP album which was the Miles Davis Quintet’s “ Round Midnight “ with wonderful Red Garland on piano. Many others followed.

Listening to Live Bands

Visited the local two-band continuous-music Shaw’s Ballroom where I saw my first Grand Piano at one end and an upright at the other. I quickly made friends with Steve Hicks who played the grand and was honoured at being asked to be his page turner and sit with him on the piano bench. It was the first band I’d heard where the drummer actually read the arrangements. What an education !  I talked at length with Dick Winter who played the upright piano in the other band and learned great tips about playing by ear. All wonderful information for an enthusiastic young player.

A Special Treat – The Nat King Cole Trio playing Dream a Little Dream of Me.

Part Four – Click Here

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