Have I ever mentioned that my parents made me take piano lessons when I was a kid? My mom could play the piano pretty well, and I guess my folks thought I had some musical talent as well. Boy, were they wrong! Nevertheless I’ve always been fascinated by the piano and the people who play it.
The piano is a wonderful instrument. It has such a – pardon the pun – grand range and sound, even unamplified. There is something about the musical frequencies it produces that is…I don’t know…resonant with the human ear and brain in a way that few other instruments are. The sound is pleasant (not the way I played it though). We hear piano music and it affects us positively whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. And I suspect that often we are not.
There’s always been piano-based pop music, since even before there was “pop music.” But even into the age of rock ‘n roll and beyond the piano never lost its appeal. From Jerry Lee Lewis in the ‘50s to The Beatles in the ‘60s to Elton John in the ‘70s to more current bands and artists like Keane and Ben Folds, the piano remains almost as constant a presence as the electric guitar. Personally, I like it when the piano is employed in certain types of rock music. Ironically, I’m not too fond of the electric piano or “electronic keyboards” in general. I like the natural sound of a regular ol’ piano.
In the 1990’s there were a couple of pianists who came to prominence…think John Tesh and of course Yanni. There was also Raul Di Blasio! From Argentina, Di Blasio has been interested in the piano since he was six. In the 1990’s he moved to the U.S. and achieved some popularity. But music fans are fickle, and no pianist will ever capture our hearts like an Eric Clapton or a Jimi Hendrix. Sad, that, because Di Blasio probably is the pianist equivalent of Clapton.
Check out this awesome instrumental tune from Di Blasio: “Hasta Que Te Conoci.” (I think it means “Until I Met You.”) It was played a lot on VH-1 in the 1990’s. It rocks! Well…I mean…not in the traditional sense, but this song, with its intricate arrangement...the layering of instruments... the pounding drums, soaring strings and horns, and of course Di Blasio's magnificent playing of the piano - this song does rock. I can listen to it over and over. And do!
It’s a shame Di Blasio never became more popular. Clearly he has the chops (and eccentric looks) to have been a major star. Trouble was, we already had a Yanni, who was younger, better-looking and had more hair. But that does not diminish Di Blasio’s talent or importance in my eyes.