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January 22, 2009


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Don Brown

Some time in the the 1970s I spoke at some length with Johnny Guarnieri who was playing solo piano at the Cafe de Copains here in Toronto. I asked him about his use of harpsichord on the Artie Shaw Gramercy Five recordings. He seemed totally embarrassed by his playing on those sides. Apparently Shaw had set up a quintet recording and when some of the the guys got to the studio someone spotted a harpsichord in a corner. Guarnieri began fooling around with it and by the time Shaw arrived the pianist was beginning to get the hang of it. But he wasn't at all happy when his boss insisted he use it on the recordings.

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  • Marc Myers writes on music and the arts for The Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (Univ. of California Press). Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year" winner.
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