Cookin' with Pianist Misha Piatigorsky
By Ken Fowser
Django Music Director, Ken Fowser, was able to catch up with acclaimed pianist Misha Piatigorsky, who will be performing with his trio, and featuring Kennedy, as part of our every Wednesday Jazz Vocal Series.
KF: Misha, we are so happy to have you back at the Django for your performance on Wednesday, March 30th for our 10PM-12:30AM show! Each Wednesday we feature singers, and you’re bringing in an amazing one known simply as “Kennedy”. How did you two become acquainted, and what’s your approach to accompanying vocalists as a piano player?
MP: I’ve known Kennedy for years and have been courting her for quite some time to make music with me. Finally she gave in! My approach to accompanying singers is to make music together. I don’t think about it as accompanying. Just like I hate it when a drummer is “accompanying” me. We each have our own roles to play. We all do our part to make magic happen. Sometimes I’m delicate and soft as a down-filled feather pillow, other times I’m loud and powerful like an orchestra. It all depends on the moment and what the music is asking for.
KF: I’ve always thought of you as one of the few people that can successfully pull off blending Jazz and Pop music. What’s your secret? How do you go about picking repertoire?
MP: If I’m in love with a song, with the melody, the harmony, it makes no difference to me what genre it comes from, be it Beatles, Hendrix, Johnny Cash, or Chopin….at this point I don’t even differentiate between what’s Jazz or Pop. If it’s groovy and harmonically fascinating, I’m in.
KF: You’re known as somewhat of a producer. What are some of your current projects? And what exactly is “The Daddy Rabbit Experience”?
MP: As a producer, I love making albums for others. Currently I’m working on three releases: Emily Braden’s latest album, a new album for German singer Stephanie Krug from Berlin, and Brazilian diva Liz Rosa. All are extremely different in color and concept but all have my signature sound. The Daddy Rabbit is whole different animal. Here I am functioning as a producer, artist, composer, and bandleader at the same time. The idea behind the Daddy Rabbit Experience is to give the audience an ‘out fo the box’ experience where they (audience) get to be a part of the music making process, literally. The band sets up in the middle of the room and the audience sits right around all of us. We essentially make music for each other, vis-à-vis, we all set up around the grand piano. Drums are right in the nook of the curve of the piano, singer (Kennedy) is within arms reach of me. Horns are also right on top of the piano. It’s the most unbelievable way to make music. And the audience feels this. In fact, they feel like they are a part of the band. That is, in essence, the Daddy Rabbit Experience. Also, musically I am writing new music with Kennedy for these shows. Always something different. Gotta keep everyone on their toes.
KF: Who are your top five most influential musicians or bands that have inspired your style as a pianist?
MP: Gene Harris, Kenny Barron, Keith Jarrett, Joao Bosco, Brad Melhdau
KF: Judging by your Instagram, you seem to be quite an amazing chef! Where are some of your favorite restaurants to eat in NYC?
MP: my house! I love Galanga (west 4th) for Thai, Sugarfish for sushi, Genaro (93rd and Amsterdam) for Italian.
KF: Being born in Moscow, and now living in NYC, is there anything you’d like to express regarding the current state of affairs over-seas?
MP: We are so in trouble now. Putin has literally messed things up for everyone in Russia and Ukraine, out of greed and a need to play Hitler. This is so devastating. No one wants this. No one. And now the millions of people that will suffer from this premeditated act is appalling and disgusting all in one. Please don’t get me started.