Monday, April 1, 2013

A Lounging Hysteria

In college I worked as a bartender in the sort of red meat and white table cloth establishment your grandfather would've gotten drunk in: Chain smokers and 10 versions of filet covered in egg yolks. Now, these anachronisms are mostly gone from the planet outside a few time-capsulized curiosities. (In my neighborhood it's The Buggy Whip and Dear John's. And, of course, there's the legendary Dresden Room.)

Piano bars were where gray-headed and tipsy patrons dropped a couple of bills in a oversized brandy snifter and requested some fusty old standard they'd never listen to at home. Where I worked only hidebound jazz purists played––to not much interest––with the occasional appearance of an Uzzi-fingered and sequined-jacketed player who'd blitz through the usual while adding the odd movie theme or show tune. (Memory and One have left bitter skid marks on my brain.) Younger guys might work in the odd pop tune (Michael Jackson or Cyndi Lauper most likely) but for the most part it was just abstracted tin pan alley tunes with a few chord substitutions.

If the lounge is ever going to survive it'll need some major retooling. There aren't enough geeks with record players and aging boomers remembering the music of their parents (like me) to feel like finger poppin' to Edie Gormé and Tony Bennett anymore. Therefore, I offer Vikatoriya Yermolyeva, Russian-schooled neo-goth piano babe and piano coverer extraordinaire. Forget Sinatra, how about System of the Down and Slayer? Then she's your gal. Vika is easily the best of anyone you'll find on YouTube and she does it without slathering on egoistic new layers of harmonic complexity. She stays true to the originals. Possibly as a result of her torturous Russian music schooling, her ear is more accurate than a cold war era smart bomb.

Dig her sexy left hand rendering of the Hysteria bass line: pure piano cover porn.  

You want to play what she's playing? She'll sell you a transcription.

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