Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, Calif.
A session like the one that Chilly Gonzales taped for us in San Francisco a month or so ago, defies any explanation that we could give it. The brilliant Canadian pianist felt that it was his duty to use our studio and our live broadcasting ways to make musicians better, while showcasing exactly why he was the stubbly man to assist. The pieces that he played - some of which are previews and will appear on his forthcoming new record, "Solo Piano II," set to release this summer - are light and feathery. They're arrangements and progressions that have been stewed over, edited and kicked many times over, so that they meet Gonzales' high standards. Before each of these pieces, Gonzales introduces the song with a lengthy speech that comes off as confident and humorous. He speaks like an artist is supposed to speak of his craft - demanding that others who attempt to work in the craft do it with attentiveness and fire. He spits on the half-cooked efforts of those who are just play-acting the part of an artist. He speaks frequently here about musical broccoli - tidbits and instruction that are good for you - and half-apologizes for being long-winded, saying, "Sorry for the long intro, but eat your broccoli motherfuckers."
He explains his methods of dispensing knowledge, in addition to performing thusly, "The reason that I sometimes try to educate, as well as entertain, is entertainment is war. It has a serious side, so it also has a serious side, you know? Entertainers against the artists. That's the war."
Lastly, he tells what could be something of a motto, saying, "The only important thing that I could actually ever tell someone who asks how music is written, I would say it has to do with limits and imposing all kinds of limits and obstacles. Now, that takes a very literal form for me because I like to do things like break Guinness world records and challenge other pianists who have no balls. I like to challenge them to piano battles and destroy them and eviscerate them and humiliate them. Not everyone has to go that far with it." Chilly Gonzales, the musical genius does, thankfully.