In two weeks, Christopher Johnson (http://www.christopherjohnsonpianist.com) and I are heading into Louis Brown’s studio on Ninth Avenue. Chris is a great pianist; at home with the flashy show stoppers (Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1), he’s also quite comfortable with more intimate pieces. His take on Gershwin is excellent-check out the audio files on his site when you have some time.
About a decade ago Chris was the featured artist on an album of my chamber music, “Many Streams, One River.” This time around he’ll be recording two solo piano works, “A Brief Dispatch On The Blues,” and “Soft As A Kiss (Emily’s Song).”
Johnson lives in Manhattan, and it only takes me about an hour to drive into town from my central New Jersey home. But our rehearsals have taken place over the telephone, and I’ve noticed a distinct advantage to working in this decidely low fi manner. Hearing Chris apply his fluid technique to my music in person is kind of like enjoying a perfect martini, or two. Why concentrate on the flaws of the writing? Sure, the bass line at letter C is somewhat lame, but who cares… it all sounds great!
We’ve all been through this. Back in the day, didn’t you listen to play backs on the Big Reds most of the time? Eventually you realized that your work had to stand up on the tiny Aurotone speakers that every professional studio owned, and you became a better producer. Sure, I could hear through the experience of listening to Chris play live, and detect the weaknesses in my writing, but I’ve really enjoyed working over the phone. Chris is in Montana right now visiting his girl friend, about 35 miles south of the Canadian border.
Time to hear how those changes at letter C sound!