A few quick lessons in how you, too,can triumph in the crazy world o’ jazz, even if you’re a 6-year-old kid in Great Neck who is tired of taking piano lessons. Ted Rosenthal didn’t let a little pre-adolescent ennui stop him! Why should you?
When The Phone Rings, Answer! Ted Rosenthal was a mere sprite of 12 when he responded to Tony Aless’ telephone come-on for jazz piano. Little did he know he was beginning a career! It’s not like his parents had any jazz records lying around. Rosenthal listened to groups like Jethro Tull!
“I didn’t even know what jazz was, but it sounded right!” Rosenthal says. He studied for two years with Aless, who played with Bird and Getz-trust me, kids, these are big names. Young Ted continued jazz and classical piano lessons through his days at Great Neck South High!
Fake Interest In Classical And You Can Always Sneak Jazz In Later! “In the mid-seventies there was an uncommonly large off-beat jazz clique at Great Neck South,” he reveals today. “It must have been an aberration!” I’ll say! Young Ted wanted to study jazz piano full time in college, but THERE WAS NO PLACE TO GO! So he went to the Manhattan School of Music and studied classical. Now he teaches there, as well as at the New School. Ha!
“Jazz has gained a lot of respect it didn’t have when I was going to school,” he says today, as a 40-year-old man of accomplishment who lives on the Upper West Side. “People can get a Ph.D. in jazz now!”
You Should Be So Lucky! In 1988, Rosenthal won the second annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition and his career took off. He joined the Gerry Mulligan Quartet and toured and recorded with the baritone saxophonist until Mulligan’s death in 1996. Rosenthal has recorded several CDs, including a disc in the At Maybeck series from Concord Records, which features the world’s top jazz pianists in solo concerts. His latest effort, as musical director and pianist for the Gerry Mulligan All-Star Tribute Band, is Thank You, Gerry! Our Tribute to Gerry Mulligan, on Arkadia Jazz Records.
How He Does It! As a member of a band, as a soloist or as the anchor of a trio-which he is when he appears on LI with bassist and local jazz instigator Al Cardillo-Rosenthal’s approach alternates between swinging and intricate expeditions. He likes to speed up ballads and slow down up-tempo standards. He also enjoys “deranging” or stripping down a well-known song and turning it inside out. Not bad for a guy who looks like a pediatrician!
TED ROSENTHAL appears 12:30pm Oct. 3 with Al Cardillo at Papa Razzi, 1500 Jericho Tpke, Westbury, 516-877-7744. Free.
Richard Brinka: International Man Of Mystery!
Keep reading and you can learn how to say “white man” in Swahili. But I digress.
In 1995, Richard Brinka found himself and his saxophone in Kampala, Uganda, and joined The Afrigo Band, a 17-piece band of musicians, dancers and singers you may remember from such films as Mississippi Masala.
So how does a guy from Bay Shore end up in Uganda? “I went to help a friend who was moving,” Brinka says. Now that’s what I call a true friend.
And now you know why he doesn’t mind being called “mzunga man” right to his face, which is “white man” in Swahili.
Brinka, who plays in the jazz/funk band Collector, even made “Mzunga Man” the title of the first cut on the band’s first CD, Almost Live. The disc mixes Brinka’s thick licks with the shimmering guitar work of Sal Cataldi. Another cut, “Ajman 305,” refers to Brinka’s address when he lived in the United Arab Emirates.
“We cover a bit of territory,” Brinka says.
COLLECTOR plays 7pm Sept 21 at The Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard St, NYC, 212-219-3006. $6.
The Cully Touch: Let Me Jazz This Up A Bit!
The husband-and-wife team of Bernard Cully and Jackie Peters-Cully are jazz artists who can’t play a lick. What they can do is paint!
The Inter-Media Art Center in Huntington will be showing their jazz art in the theater’s gallery through the new millennium. Y2K willing! Bernard paints with black acrylics or fabric dye or oils or even crayon on paper and canvas. Jackie, being a retired textile designer, chooses to work with watercolors or fabric dye on silk. To get more brilliant colors she steams the fabric afterwards.
You could say the die was cast when the Cullys fell in love with the jazz heroes that all the young lions have been trying to emulate for the past 20 years: Bird, Miles, Dizzy and Sonny Rollins-trust me, kids, big names all!
The gallery is open noon to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday and on Saturdays of performances at IMAC, 370 New York Ave, Huntington, 516-549-ARTS.