3 piano/keyboard players who aren’t limited by genre

Since I ended up listening to an unusually wide variety of music today, I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you. After I picked these 3 recordings, I realized they have something very specific in common despite their stylistic differences: they all feature musicians who aren’t limited by genre. These pianists/keyboardists don’t let the perceived boundaries of their musical style constrict them in any way.

First off, I checked out some Ozzy Osborne as inspiration for a “Heavy Metal Piano” ebook I’m writing. While I don’t always enjoy Ozzy’s antics, I love the way guitarist Randy Rhoads and keyboardist Don Airey incorporated their classical music expertise into the heavy metal sound.

Watch Airey play his famous Bach-like synth intro to the song “Mr. Crowley.” Musicians like this aren’t limited by genre. They don’t say “We can’t do this because nobody else does it.” They play what they love and make it work.

Ozzy Osborne: Mr. Crowley

Later on, in the car, I put on one of my all-time favorite recordings, Chick Corea’s “The Mad Hatter.” This album was influenced by the book Alice In Wonderland and Corea rose to the occasion by producing some of his best work. It features everything from synthesizer to string quartet to vocal with trumpets to straight-ahead jazz quartet.

Here’s the album’s finale, “The Mad Hatter Rhapsody.” It gets off to an exciting start with a guest solo by Herbie Hancock on electric piano. The whole thing is great but I especially enjoy the Latin-style section later on in the track. Chick played in Latin big bands as a teenager and he updates the sound here with electronics as only he can do.

Chick Corea: The Mad Hatter Rhapsody

And earlier this evening I went to YouTube to check out the new song by The Piano Guys, a duo that seamlessly combines classical and pop. I had seen the new Jurassic World movie last weekend (loved it!) and wanted to see how The Piano Guys arranged the theme music. As you’ll hear, they decided to take the “high road” with this spare, understated rendition. In this day of spectacle after spectacle, it’s refreshing that they don’t always feel the need to amaze and astound. It’s simply beautiful music, played with feeling.

The Piano Guys: “Jurassic World Theme”

I hope you enjoy these selections from my “day of listening.” I also hope that they will give you the confidence and courage to go out there and play the music you love. Yes, do what you have to do to be heard, but do it in a way that’s true to yourself and the way you like to play music.

Take your left hand playing to a new level with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration

Leave a Comment

Sign up for Blog Updates