Chilly Gonzales is a great piano player – and someone who knows how to have fun with the instrument, to break down barriers, to welcome people into his world/s. He’s paired piano with hip-hop beats, he’s pared it right back to the sparse, Satie-like derivations – he’s done almost everything in-between.
He’s at his best, I’ve always found, when thinking and playing like a classical player but keeping it simple, his approach seems all-inclusive, all-encompassing.
So his Re-Introduction Etudes speaks to exactly that. It’s a book of fresh pieces for the “lapsed amateur”; embarrassed by the rinky-dink repertoire that’s required of many starting out, or starting out for the second time, Gonzales here aims to give people a little something different – some easy-enough-to-learn tunes that sound fresh, interesting, inspiring.
The accompanying CD works as standalone album – I’m playing only that. It’ll be a while before I’m ever legally allowed to touch a piano.
Gonzales, via YouTube clips and live shows, is someone who has fun with the instrument and in his re-telling of the history and applications of the piano – and all of that informs these re-introduction etudes.
Dedicated variously to Drake, M.C. Escher, Erik Satie, Maria Callas, Daft Punk, Mozart, Lionel Richie, Victor Borge, Brahms, Thelonious Monk, Nina Simone and Steve Jobs – these are little dents in the silence, fun and clever and lovely to listen to even if you have never played, and never intend on playing. But what a world to open up for anyone who had – at some point – some of the skills and then life got in the way.
Of course if best intentions with the book don’t work out you still have Chilly to sit and listen to.