A story behind “Piano Study #5 (for Just Fender Rhodes)”

A little over a decade ago, I bought a Fender Rhodes. A guy in my home town (“They call me when Herbie Hancock plays The Gorge”) overhauled the whole thing for the cost of parts, psyched that a high schooler was Craigslisting old keyboards with barista money. I learned to tune it, adjust the action, level the voicing, replace pickups, and just about everything else. I took it to college and set it up in my apartment, then took it to New York and set it up in the living room, and finally now in Santa Cruz it’s sitting in our house, still packed up from a recent tour to Los Angeles.

In or around 2007, when I heard Larry Polansky’s Piano Study #5 (for Just Fender Rhodes), I knew it was a piece I had to perform. When I came to grad school at UCSC, I ended up playing shows here and there with Larry, both others’ music and my own, and after I retuned my Rhodes for a little composition exercise I thought that it was probably time to finally perform the piece. The piece requires a tune to use as a ground for improvisation, and I picked up one from a John Fahey recording of “In Christ There Is No East or West,” (an easy choice for a just intonation piece: the melody has a minor seventh). I performed it around the Bay, and eventually recorded it in an empty UC Santa Cruz recital hall with David Dunn engineering the session. Of these takes, the third (and longest) was the best. There’s a patience that the piece requires, and (like Tenney’s Swell Piece) a symmetry that takes planning and a sense of duration and scope.

We sat on this recording for a while, unsure of what exactly to do with it: too long for a 7-inch, too special for a digital single release. But then we began planning a limited-edition lathe-cut series as part of a fundraising effort for our concert series and other expenses, and this fit right in. So, my performance of Piano Study #5 (for Just Fender Rhodes) is finally out, for $1 (or more) digitally or $75 for one of the 25 transparent lathe-cut records. It’s an edition of 25, and there are already just 17 left, so if you’re on the fence now is the time. The records have a beautiful tuning lattice showing through the grooves, and screen-printed notes on Side B. Most importantly, sales of this record will help us continue presenting concerts in Santa Cruz, and continue developing a local community around experimental music.

Purchase on Bandcamp.
Listen on Spotify.

If you are feeling so generous you would like to support the series with nothing (except a tax deduction) in return, please head to our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas to do so. Thank you!

Thanks for reading,
Andrew