Guest Post: The Pianobabbler Chris-Crosses

Today I’d like to share a cross-post written by Ron Davis, the Pianobabbler.  You can read my post at

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I dreamt I woke up one day on

That day is here.

I am the Pianobabbler. Ron Davis. I’ve been performing as a pianist since the 1970’s.

I took a long hiatus to work as a lawyer and a French Professor.  I returned to professional music 12 years ago. Since then, I have released seven recordings, and a book of my compositions. I’ve toured widely, especially in Asia. I’ve developed a project for jazz trio and symphony (

I like Chris Donnelly, personally and musically. In turn, Chris Donnelly and I have many likes alike.

Like Chris, I play piano, I compose, I arrange.

Like Chris, my musical DNA entwines classical and jazz indiscriminately, although we both perform under the banner of jazz.

Like Chris, I blog: has been babbling weekly since 2008. I microbabble on Twitter too:

Like Chris, finally, my pianism is rooted in the teaching of the late Darwyn Aitken. Darwyn studied with piano legends David Saperton (classical) and Oscar Peterson(jazz).  Darwyn’s legacy comprises some of the best-known jazz names in Canada (for more on Darwyn, see Pianobabbler 29 and 63.)

Unlike Chris, I was born in 1957. Therein lies a world of difference. The music that impressed its palm-print on the wet cement of my young psyche was of the 60`s and 70`s. Beatles, Donovan, Joni Mitchell.

John Coltrane was still releasing albums (on vinyl!)

Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington were active. I saw them all.

Herbie Hancock and Lenny Breau were the young bad boys (there were few women) of jazz.

The music of my parents time was still awhirl in my youth’s soundscape. I disliked much of it, wired as all adolescents are for parental rejection. But bits of their music slipped through and stuck.

Stride piano, for example. And Bach. I started to listen to both, as parentally old as they were. They affected me. Influenced me. To this day, I count Glenn Gould playing Bach, and Grand Piano– the stride piano duets of Willie The Lion Smith and Don Ewell- as my favourite piano recordings (see Pianobabbler 114).

So the canvass on which the muses painted my artistic profile differs fundamentally from Chris’. Old music for me is ancient for him; old for him, fresh for me; new for him, a challenge for me.

And yet we connect. Though different stylistically, we listen with appreciation to each other. We pay attention. We ask what the other is doing. We share music. We’re curious about the other’s tastes and views.

Whatever our differences and dissonances, we are harmonious. And harmony is what music is all about. And music is what Chris and I are all about.

One does not becomes a professional musician just for the music. We could stay at home and make music.  One does music professionally to connect with people. One makes the sacrifices, and endured the vagaries of professional music to bring joy to audiences, and to commune with equally passionate colleagues.

Chris Donnelly is a passionate colleague. I, as an older and equally passionate colleague, am reminded of one reason I returned to professional music 12 years ago: to connect with colleagues like Chris.

I dreamt I woke up one day on It was a good dream.

Chris Donnelly and I will be performing in a duo concert on January 20, 2011 at Paul Hahn Pianos in Toronto. Free admission. Details:

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