Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi are returning to the UK with the Classic Jazz in Four Hands piano concert.
The talented duo stop by on Close-up Culture to tell us more about their upcoming shows at the Pizza Express in Soho (20 & 21 May).
Q: What are you looking forward to about your upcoming UK shows?
Paolo: It’s always a pleasure to play in the UK: there is great appreciation for the styles of jazz that we play and we have many friends we’re looking forward to seeing at our concerts. Also, Pizza Express is a wonderful venue and London is a culturally stimulating place and we always enjoy our time there.
Q: Do you find that there is different atmosphere at UK shows compared to the US?
Stephanie: There is definitely a difference. We play a repertoire that is almost a hundred years old and the audience in the UK is especially interested in the history of this music. There is the culture of listening to classic jazz and we meet a lot of people who are knowledgeable about stride piano and classic jazz. This appreciation makes it special for us!
Q: The first of the shows takes us through ‘The Grand Masters Of Classic Jazz Piano’. Can you tell us more about the show and the journey it will take the audience on?
Paolo: Though we play a lot together we have different jazz backgrounds. Stephanie’s roots are in stride piano, ragtime, and boogie woogie. I have more experience in the swing tradition and in the Great American Songbook. Stephanie’s idol is James P. Johnson, the “Father of Stride Piano” and mine is Erroll Garner, one of the great swinging pianists.
For this show we’ll combine some individual tributes – Stephanie will play tributes to James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake, and the boogie woogie masters, and I will focus on Erroll Garner, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines and Jelly Roll Morton – with four-hands renditions of some ragtime pieces and hot jazz classics. It’s fun to try to give the audience as wide a spectrum of piano styles as possible and it would be hard to do this as a solo pianist.
Q: And what about the second show (titled ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’)?
Stephanie: The second evening’s program is about Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley, or the “industry of songs.” The concert will start with a tribute to Irving Berlin, one of the most prolific Songbook composers and writer of There’s No Business Like Show Business, and we’ll play music by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, and others. All together, they wrote thousands of beautiful songs, many of which have become jazz standards.
We like to look for lesser-known material and present tunes that have fallen into obscurity because they haven’t been played often. But we also like to arrange their great hits in four hands and find original ways to play them. Our versions of the tunes will be based on the stride piano and swing idioms but we also have some surprises…
Q: Since the show has a Hollywood-theme, do you have a favourite film score or film composer of all-time?
Stephanie: It’s hard to pick a favourite film score or film composer. Since we focus mainly on the Golden Era of Broadway and Hollywood (’30s, ’40s and ’50s…) we’ll pick tunes from shows with music by Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, and others. One production that we love and that is undoubtedly a high point in the history of Hollywood musicals is Singin’ in the Rain, and we put together a medley of our favourite songs from it. We’ll also play a tribute to Jule Styne, one of the great British composers.
Q: One element of the show is the Keyboard Cam, which allows every audience members to see your hands at work. Can you talk about the Keyboard Cam?
Paolo: It’s a great feature and we are thrilled to have it for these concerts! The music is obviously the same with or without the projection of the keys, but the Keyboard Cam adds another dimension to the show, especially because we play in four hands on one piano.
Q: The two of you have been incredibly successful for a number of years. Does it still take a long time to prepare and practice for these shows or does your experience make the process simpler?
Stephanie: We have been working together for ten years and most of our concerts are in duo, so we have accumulated quite a large joint repertoire but we always like to challenge ourselves to prepare new material.
Also, we like to find new ways of approaching four-hands piano. We know each other very well – and that makes the process simpler – but we still spend a lot of time practicing and we are somewhat ambitious about working on the arrangements for our duo. We always mix improvised parts with arranged sections to make our arrangements more interesting to listen to and rewarding to play. The audience enjoys seeing musicians having a good time onstage so this is one of the ways we approach our arrangements: think of a way to make these tunes fun to play together.
Q: And lastly, what are your hopes for the shows?
Paolo: In general, we hope to have a good crowd that appreciates jazz piano. But we also hope that there will be people in the audience who haven’t experienced stride piano or who aren’t familiar with the repertoire we play, and we hope that they will get excited about and interested in this music. There is a lot of great music from the past and we hope that our concerts make this repertoire accessible and enjoyable to everyone.
Doors 7:30pm – Show 8:30pm Tickets £25
Wednesday May 20th @ Pizza Express, Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 3RW
The Great Masters of Classic Piano
Thursday May 21st @ Pizza Express, Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 3RW
There’s no business like show business