Adagio, from Gazebo Dances

John Corigliano’s Gazebo Dances depict the sorts of pavilions often seen in the center of small towns across the country, where ad hoc local bands play concerts on warm summer evenings.  Corigliano’s depictions of the mixture of the bombastic energy of marches and dance pieces, and the inevitable clashes and crashes of under-rehearsed ensembles is evident in the other three movements of this suite.  Adagio, however, is a moment of true reflection, tenderness, and almost tragic beauty in the midst of the celebration.

Molly Wheeler and I have recorded the complete Gazebo Dances.  I featured our recording of the Tarantella previously on this blog.  The suite continues to be one of our favorites, and this performance was part of a concert we gave a year and a half ago.

To order this music, visit

Nasty Habit

There are few composers who bridge musical genres as well as Jason Heald.  He writes just as well for musical theatre as he does for chamber music.  He writes choral music.  He writes cabaret.  In addition, he runs a music department, takes students on tours, performs, conducts...I don’t know when or if he sleeps.

Jason also allowed me to record one of my CD’s, A Spin On It, at Umpque Community College where he teaches.  In addition to pieces by Joel Pierson, Dana Libonati, and Dave Deason, I recorded Jason’s Suite for Guitar and Piano.  At the end of a very long afternoon, I knocked out this cabaret song because, after all, what better way to channel my inner Diana Krall?

Nasty Habit.  Get it here:

Autumn Hues

Fall is my favorite season, and few pieces capture the visual beauty of turning leaves like Dave Deason’s Autumn Hues.  This lovely piano solo is part of Dave’s Oregon Impressions CD, and reflects his admiration for the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

The long melodic lines of this composition require a fluid sense of time, while the left hand is the conductor that keeps the piece from devolving into sentimentality.  The beauty of the melody is balanced by an underlying sense of pathos and the inevitable passage of time.

To order a copy of this music, contact Dave at:

In Time’s Unfolding

In Time’s Unfolding, by Chester Biscardi, is a piece I never could have played when I was young.  I lacked the seasoning of years lived, loves, and losses that this gorgeous music portrays so poetically.   Only now, in my more mature years, can I glimpse a patience and optimism that comes from knowing that life is fatal, but not tragic—a sentiment I feel best describes my understanding of In Time’s Unfolding.

In Chester’s words, “In Time’s reflective—of the past, of one’s self—and celebrates the moment...Time unfolds over a musical landscape that is at once poignant and painful, lonely, celebratory, and heroic.  The title comes from the seventh section of Galway Kinnell’s eleven-part poem, When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone.”
Biscardi’s performance notes encourage the pianist to take a flexible interpretation of the tempi—a suggestion I embraced whole-heartedly.  This video was shot by my friend, Bob Wall, in my home.  
To order a copy of this piece, visit Chester’s …

Etude # 7: "I flew as in a dream..."

This beautiful etude--the final of Scott Pender's collection--is a lush, sweeping, utterly romantic and soaring piece.  It's also technically challenging, which is why I worked harder on this one than any of Scott's other Etudes.  It's difficult, but it needs to sound as effortless as breathing.

In his performance notes, Scott writes that the title is a line from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. "I feel it captures the spirit of this etude," Scott writes, "perhaps my favorite of the set. The romantic middle section elaborates on the lyrical theme first heard in the fourth Etude.  I feel strong echoes of Chopin and Rachmaninov in this concluding piece."

As one raised on Romantic piano music and Victorian novels, this Etude has become one of my favorites as well.

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Etude # 4: The Devil's Escalator

Big leaps, thorny rhythms, breakneck speeds and huge dynamics--yup, everything you'd expect Satan's escalator to be.  It's also one of those pieces that offers ample room for theatrics and a few non-scripted tempo changes because, if it's devilish, you can't just follow all the rules...

According to Scott's notes, the title is an homage to Ligeti's fiendishly difficult etude, "The Devil's Staircase."  And, he suggests, "wouldn't it be just a little easier to have an escalator, even if it occasionally starts and stops, reverses, or collapses like in the cartoons?"

This performance was an informal one, filmed by my friend Bob Wall, in my home.  I've also performed it in concert; it brought the house down.

To order a copy, visit Scott's website:


I met Dana Libonati when we both worked in the music department at Linfield College.  Dana taught vocal jazz.  I taught classical piano.  Very shortly after being introduced, we were friends and Dana was giving me jazz piano lessons.  Despite my strict classical "handicap," he helped me learn how to improvise and swing.  More importantly, the friendship we forged has lasted through years of working together (at Linfield, at Young Musician's and Artist's camp, and on joint projects), a divorce and remarriage on my part, a severe illness and recovery on his.  Dana's the brother I never had.

He's also writes some great stuff, mostly vocal jazz composition and arranging, but every so often he writes a piano solo piece.  This is one he wrote one summer while we worked together at camp.  He titled it Summer Camp and has recorded it under that title.  Well, I like my title, Still, better and he was gracious enough to allow me to record and release it as such. I'…