I grew up in Berkeley, California, listening to my father play the piano, my older brother play piano, and to wonderful long-playing records of Beethoven string quartets, (Budapest String Quartet!), Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Bartok, Malvina Reynolds, Vince Guaraldi, Billie Holiday, Beatles, Stan Getz, the sound track from “Black Orpheus,” Dizzy Gillespie, Cal Tjader.... My older brother John and I would  listen to the great Bay Area radio stations - KDIA, KYA, KSOL, KSAN,  KJAZ,  KFRC, and KPFA, of which my mother and father were some of the earliest members.

One very early memory: I was probably 5 or 6 years old, listening as we did our kitchen duties after dinner, and “Up On The Roof” came on the radio. I loved that song. Then "Duke Of Earl" right after, and we would sing along -- “Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl.” I learned so much about harmony, cadences, rhythm, lyrics, and song structure from the endless stream of  popular music coming across the radio waves.

When I was 7, Bill Triest gave us his 1898 Baus upright grand piano, and heavenly sounds began to waft through the old stucco house we rented on 1011 Fountain Walk. My father would play the piano at night after all the kids were finally in bed, the lush, juicy chords going down the tenor of the piano, George Gershwin style, and you could hear Prokofieff in there too, and Sibelius, the wood frame house with oak hardwood floors a primo sounding board. My mother sat me up at the piano and showed me this pretty book with beautiful pen and ink drawings of sailing ships, old mill wheels, flowing fields of grain, and underneath were words and black raindrops with stems attached strung along a set of lines -- I was beginning to read music.  First tune?  “Good King Wenceslaus” -- he was  pictured walking through the snow in winter carrying a heavy load of firewood.

I began playing in earnest around the age of 9, composing piano pieces of my own, and studying jazz and classical piano.  Playing became part of my daily routine, an audio diary recording my reflections of all the wonderful sounds…. My brother John and I would sit side by side at the piano -- 4 hands! -- as our feet would wrestle to see who would work the pedals.

I wear many musical hats -- piano teacher, local pianist, composer, band leader, touring musician, and, as George and Ira once wrote -- it’s Nice Work If You Can Get It....

Thank you for visiting my site, and I hope to see you soon.

William

 
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