Chilly Gonzales at Rough Trade East
Canadian pianist Chilly Gonzales (real name Jason Charles Beck) played an intimate gig at Rough Trade East last Friday to promote his new album Solo Piano II, and give his fans a taste of his upcoming UK tour in early 2013. Discreetly starting his set at the back of East London’s famous hipster music store, Gonzales demonstrated his exceptional talent in both playing ability and composition.
None of his pieces lacked drama, complimenting his charismatic performance style. His work seemed to effortlessly combine blues and pop-inspired riffs with clear classical influences, verging on the operatic at points. Although lengthier than your average pop song, Gonzales’ compositions followed a similar structure with recurring melodies and heavy base lines, improvising with percussion as an accompaniment, by hitting the wood of his piano sharply or using his feet to keep the beat. His pieces are highly original whilst being easily accessible to those unused to listening to solo piano composition, without being overly simplistic or dull.
In between playing, Gonzales charmed the audience with his modest humour, taking some requests from the audience and encouraging their participation – there were no self-indulgent speeches shamelessly promoting his new album, although by the looks of it most of the audience of dedicated fans had already purchased it in-store.
The highlight of his short performance was Gonzales asking the audience to hum a base line “in the style of Ol’ Dirty Bastard” while he played over top. Not only was the result incredibly enjoyable to listen to, his witty banter got big laughs from his listeners.
Whilst Chilly Gonzales’ talent and originality is undeniable, what really makes his live performance is his affable charm and showmanship. Go for the music, stay for the conversation. I am completely won over by this charming man.
Chilly Gonzales’ Solo Piano II is available to buy now.
For more information, including tour dates in the UK early next year, visit his website.