Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Horowitz’

Andy Kahn Meets Vladimir Horowitz

Friday, June 1st, 2012

What do Philadelphia jazz pianist Andy Kahn and classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz have in common?

“Not much,” you say?

The fact is, Kahn loves classical music but doesn’t play classical music.

Horowitz loved jazz, specifically jazz piano genius Art Tatum, but didn’t play jazz.

Both have performed on a nine-foot, Steinway grand piano, model CD503, that was Horowitz’s personal and touring instrument for years. Indeed, the Maestro was so in love with it, he called it “my friend.”

Under the aegis of Jacobs MusicCompany– since 1900, one of the mid-Atlantic regions most respected sellers of pianos–CD503 is now “on tour,” and recently was “in residence” at Jacobs Music in center city Philadelphia.

To celebrate this event, Jacobs artist-in-residence Kahn as well as acclaimed Russian classical pianist Svetlana Smolina, performed on the instrument–and talked about the experience–for a taping of Jill Pasternak’s “Crossover” radio program for WRTI-FM radio in Philadelphia.

Pasternak is well-suited as host of this program, as she’s a Julliard-trained classical harpist, Fulbright Scholar, and spent 10 years with WFLN, Philadelphia’s famed classical music radio station for decades.

Both Kahn and Smolina told Pasternak they were honored, humbled and a bit nervous playing Horowitz’ s instrument. There was, however, no evidence of nervousness in their stellar performances. Kahn did note that the Steinway CD 503 wasn’t very forgiving in terms of its action.

“There’s no faking anything on this piano,” Kahn told Pasternak. “The piano ‘action’ is set in such a way that if you even touch a key, it plays,” adding that its power and dymanic range are extraordinary.

During Kahn’s performance, he tied in Horowitz’ s love for jazz by way of one of Art Tatums’–and Horowitz’s–favorite compositions, “Tea for Two,” a song that the Maestro himself actually played more than once. And given Horowitz’ Russian heritage, Kahn also performed a song with Russian origins, “Ochi Chyornye,” better known as “Dark Eyes.”

I’ve known Andy Kahn personally and professionally for more than 50 years. I’ve never heard him play better.

I took advantage of our long-time association by asking my pal if I might play a few notes on the fabled CD503. I played half of what was supposed to be “Come Back to Sorrento.” What did I sound like?

I sounded like Bruce Klauber playing Vladimir Horowitz’ s piano. Let’s put it this way: At the keyboard, I’m no Andy Kahn or Svetlana Smolina. Both were kind enough not to suggest that I keep my day job.

On June 3, Jacobs Music Company will sponsor another event in conjunction with The Man and His Instrument. A number of the Greater Delaware Valley’s finest young piano students will duplicate the exact program that Horowitz performed on June 3, 1932 at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Although Vladimir Horowitz died on November 5, 1989, as long as his music is performed–and played on his instrument–his memory, his legend and his legacy will live on.


Friday, May 25th, 2012

My sincerest and most heartfelt thanks to the Suzanne Cloud and the other movers and shakers behind Philadelphia’s Jazz Bridge, a non-profit organization devoted to helping jazz musicians in need. In addition to being a marvelous singer, Ms. Cloud is one heck of a human being. She–and Jazz Bridge–have helped me personally and professionally. I look forward to helping get the word out about this marvelous organization in the future. I was so moved by what they did for me–and what they do–that I wrote The President. Whatever you may think of the man, he has the good sense to stay away from the tenor sax, which could not be said for another recent President.

This area has recently lost two, great jazz pianists, George Mesterhazy and Don Wilson. Both were players and human beings of the highest order. George could swing and improvise like the wind. Everything he played was joyous. Wilson was quite an individual stylist. Singers, and everyone else, loved him. He was particularly effective at very slow tempos, a quality that few could duplicate, though Trudy Pitts, Shirley Horn and singer Joy Adams came close. The scene here will never be the same without George and Don.

Wilson had a regular Thursday night gig at one of Philadelphia’s premiere restaurants, The Prime Rib, which is also THE place to hear piano greats like Tom Lawton. Taking over the Thursday spot is my friend Andy Kahn.

Andy, by the way, will be involved in a very, very special promotion for Jacob’s Music, which concerns the piano owned and played by one Vladimir Horowitz. Andy Kahn, who also does some work for Jacobs, will be interviewed by Temple University’s WRTI radio about the Maestro and the instrument, and plans to play a few numbers as well. I plan on being there when the interview takes place at Jacobs, and will report to you thusly.

As you likely already know, has reduced the price of everything we have to $10, with shipping free worldwide. I urge you to take advantage of this.

I also look forward to reporting my musical encounter in late June with pianist Peter Beets, who will be visiting these parts shortly.

Atlantic City, a.k.a. “Beirut by the Sea,” continues to get battered by the economy, other gambling outlets, and the sheer fact that A.C. does not yet have it together. A front page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer alleged that mental health organizations and similar organizations in New Jersey and surrounding areas are “dumping” patients and others in terrible need–where else?–A.C. Not surprising, nor is the fact that in the list of top 10 beaches in New Jersey, Atlantic City didn’t make the cut.