What’s it like to be on tour with yourself?
After the intensities of the RTF Returns and Five Peace Band tours over the last 2 years, playing in my smallest, most intimate band has been a nice contrast. I get to “practice the piano” – something which becomes rarer and rarer as I become busier and busier.
I’ve really been enjoying trying out new ways to carve a program out each night. The biggest challenge is how to strike out on a direction that has some “direction.” So I’ve been experimenting with the theme of the compositions of my favorite pianists and keyboardists (there was no piano in Domenico Scarlatti’s time – he wrote on the harpsichord).
Do you miss playing with others, or is this a cool thing for a change?
In a sense, playing solo piano on a long tour is kind of lonely. I do miss the camaraderie of my music partners and the fun of that interaction. But the plus side is that I get to view my own creative world by itself with no other influences – and see what it is that I need to do next to improve it and make it stronger. It’s a new lesson in communication with all types of audiences as well – because this time, it’s just me and them to create an aesthetic experience.
How have the pianos been?
Playing a different piano each night, differently prepared, is an ongoing challenge. I’m afraid (or glad) that I’ve become totally spoiled by (or accustomed to) the greatest and best-prepared pianos in the world – so I’ve also become very picky about the quality of the pianos I encounter. Fortunately, my longtime friend and master piano technician Brian Alexander tries his best to make calls around the world to help choose the best local technicians and pianos. I discovered years ago that the technician and his ability to prepare a piano is far more important than the make or even the condition of the piano. My favorite pianos continue to be the Yamaha CF3 and the Bosendorfer concert grands. But, unless they are well prepared, it might as well be any spinet available.
Any thoughts about upcoming gigs with Stefano and Gary?
I’m really looking forward to playing 2 pianos with Stefano Bollani. His musical tastes seem like they are very wide like my own. He told me he loves Brazilian music – which is obvious from his amazing Brazilian music album. And the end of my tour will be relaxing with my long-time musical partner Gary Burton. We’re working on a new set of songs for our next recording. It’s always a lot of fun to play with Gary – and he, by the way, is in Great Form these days.
What would be your most ideal way to tour?
Well, if anyone out there would like to donate a private 747 jet airliner with pilot and crew for my next tour – I certainly would consider it 🙂