Frankly My Dear… He Gives a Damn

Cool for School: Dave unlocking some mysteries for you from his base in midtown Manhattan (Kundalini Yoga also available, although playing the piano in lotus position is probably not wise).

If you haven’t heard of pianist Dave Frank, this is your lucky day. He’s a formidable, eclectic performer; a former Piano Prof at Berkelee, before he founded his own school in NYC; author of two books and a DVD (published by Hal Leonard); and a genial, incredibly generous and prolific video educator. Check out his stuff here:

You’ll find free classes and clinics on: walking basslines from scratch; various scales (from a similar scratch); analysis of Bill Evans’ harmonic ideas; how to burn baby, burn; a talkthrough of one of those special little moments Chick Corea shares with just a piano and 50,000 people; a discussion of the techniques and visualisations classical pianists use to work tonal subtlety out of the old “wooden musical typewriter”; a discourse on Charles Ives… And tons more in between and beyond. There’s hours of videos up there. If stuff like this had been available when I was starting out I might have more hair today.

There’s an inevitable broad piano-centrism – as here – but there are also stylistic and compositional breakdowns on Bird, Dolphy, Zappa… He’s also a bit of a “Deadhead” on the side and will show you how to “shoot” those top notes like Chico Marx.

Dave honed a lot of his chops at the ascerbic but ultimately generous knee of the great Lennie Tristano. That’s my English reserve coming out there – Tristano was known for telling it like it fucking well is (whoops, that’s the English reserve going back in there). And I think he must have been born in that beret – but it suits him, so that’s cool by me!

So now that the autumn TV schedules are kicking in, if you don’t fancy Britain’s Got Deluded Ambition, The Why Factor or Strictly Piss Off Back to Presenting the Weather, you could always pull up Dave’s website and treat yourself to a binge on the online box set of Frankly My Dear. This guy is the mutt’s nuts. (He doesn’t swear as much as I do.)

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