Starr And The MGM Steinway Piano

March 18, 2007

I recently had the opportunity to watch and listen to Conversation(s) With Other Women ( as well as speak to Starr Parodi, one of the composers. Needless to say I was quite impressed with the refreshing change Starr and Jeff had to offer the listener. Was Starr influenced by Miles Davis? In a word yes. She had the opportunity to meet with Miles and some of the band members when she was the keyboard player for Arsenio Hall and her responses to the questions invoked excitement and enthusiasm about a very special trumpet player. I was quite fortunate to have heard Miles, Dizzy, Bill Evans, and others in person but never did I speak to them. Gone from the music was this safe, non melodic, landscape middle of the road material. I felt like a teenager in a coffee house on the University of Minnesota campus in the 60’s listening to cool jazz.

Did the piano really come from MGM or was this just hype from the publicity agent? According to Starr it had the very difficult to duplicate silver inventory tag from the famous studio on it when she first took possession of it. It was a Steinway 1928 B. Had it been treated kindly? Nope there was a lot of work that had to be done to it before it truly became playable. Some of the keys were sticky and it needed a lot of tuning. But it had that wonderful trademark of an old Steinway and well just listen to it on “Common Places”, her solo improvisation CD. A funny story that she shared with me had to do with these little bumps that she felt underneath the keyboard. Starr has a habit of feelin underneath the keys when she is not playing while someone else is doing a solo in her group and finally one day she was curious enough to get down and take a look. To her amazement there were pieces of old gum from who knows how many years ago. As the piano was used for the MGM production of Wizard of Oz was it Herbert Stothart himself that had this habit? Well, we’ll never know.

It just has to be magical knowing that the likes of some pretty famous composers sat at this piano and composed. Again while we will never really know for sure it could have been used by Johnny Green, Miklos Rozsa, David Raksin, Andre Previn and many others and now it has been put in the hands of yet another young upcoming composer. It must be a source of inspiration just knowing who played it and where it came from. Does it have vibrations from the past? Do you feel the presence of someone else when your playing it?

How does it sound you ask? Take a minute and go to their website and check out sound clips from their films, trailers, and “Common Places”. Let me just say that the tone is superb and the classical training (I feel it is very important) that Starr received at an early age are all positives in my book. You can be a great piano player but if you don’t have a good keyboard to play your music on the sound is going to be less than. This is certainly not the case with Starr. Take a great piano and put a great piano player with it and you have something outstanding!

Who knows that perhaps the ghost of Herbert Stothart will influence something even better than The Wizard of Oz from this piano and upcoming composer.


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