Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trying the Same Thing, Expecting a Different Result

Earlier this summer I met up with my buddy pianist Peter Schmid at Aphrodita Japonica Studio. We decided to record him playing solo piano.  Once he started he didn't stop.  It turned out to be an epic improvisation, over 52 minutes with new ideas cascading one after another. He just kept going and going.  And now you can listen to the whole thing right here on Mixed Meters.

Once he had finished I gave him a beer.  He drank it but said nothing.  Then I gave him another beer which he also drank silently.  Peter is a man of few words sometimes and not much of a drinker.  Finally he said "I think I want to call it Trying the Same Thing, Expecting a Different Result."  What could I say.  Seems like a good title.

Click here to hear Peter Schmid's Trying the Same Thing, Expecting a Different Result - © 2013, 3151 seconds

Later I talked the notoriously reclusive pianist into giving me a biography I could share with my Mixed Meters' readers.
As a child Peter Schmid studied classical piano first with Miss Mabel Filcher and later with Dr. Lester Nordine at Reinecke State College.  He began his professional career playing pop music, most notably as rhythm keytarist for Jerry and the Willows.  
Peter moved to Southern California in 1983 where he devoted himself first to new classical music and then free improvisation. His music often has a sense of wildly free imagination, at other times there's a meandering stream of consciousness.  It has been described as "relentless and hostile dissonance tempered with flashes of unsophisticated austerity."    
For many years Peter supported himself teaching music in elementary schools in the San Gabriel Valley until Republican budget cuts reduced music programs.  These days he ekes out a living as a short haul trucker while honing his true craft by playing piano in what he calls "post-modern bordellos and upscale waterfront dives".    In his spare time Peter enjoys cultivating Bonsai and reading the novels of C. S. Forester. 
Peter has also led an innovative quartet of local musicians.  One reviewer said "They seem to read each other's minds."  They are Cornel Reasoner, bass, Luis 'Pulpo' Jolla, drums and percussion, and  Lori Terhune, guitar.
I like Peter's music a lot and am happy to be able to present some of it here on my blog.  Although it's extremely hard to describe and even more impossible to know how he does it, what I am sure of is that I would love to be able to play piano the way he does.

A few recordings by the Peter Schmid Quartet can be found here.

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