piano rehearsal with Cliff Spencer, March or April, 2012 -
We have an interesting problem in the Philharmonic / Three-O, which is the presence of two excellent keyboardists, alphabetically (and left to right), Berke McKelvey and Cliff Spencer.
Now, Cliff is our main keyboardist with the Philharmonic, and a marvelous asset at all times (with the possible exception of those particular sound checks in which he spends arguably a pinch too much time regaling all and sundry with his seemingly unlimited range of sound effects and encyclopedic knowledge of old TV show themes and Evil classic rock riffs.) What can I tell you? He's all keyboard player (though he has made interesting forays lately into the realm of melodica and accordion -not to mention photography, thank god, actually getting some darn fine CTP and Three-O photos, some of which you may have already seen.
Berke, on the other hand, has made it his business to learn how to play everything, and I mean Everything, which has made him a serious asset in the Three-O, a group seriously in need of serious assets in which Berke plays clarinets, saxophones, and keyboard (all the while coming up with a succession of puns that, at certain times, can really make you want to kill yourself.)
Unfortunately, the Philharmonic hasn't been able to play nearly as much as we'd like in recent years, due more to our large size and sound than anything else (there's 9 of us in the full CTP nowadays, which makes us too large and occasionally loud for a lot of the dumps that otherwise might be appropriate.) On the other hand, the Three-O (at four persons) is both small and quiet enough to fit almost anywhere, so that format has ended up working a lot more, and rehearsing a lot more, because it's a lot easier to get 4 of us together than 9. The result is that the guys in the Three-O get a lot more cracks at the new material a lot sooner, and thus do a lot of the arranging, at least in the early stages.
One by-product of this situation is that we have two different keyboardists playing these songs, both coming up with fascinating and frequently wildly divergent ideas, and we then have to edit down their various contributions into something manageable and maybe even semi-coherent.
We presented Berke's first crack at "Disappointment" last week, and this is Cliff's. Note the fabulous descending part on the second verse (around 1.11), and the leap into kitchen sink territory on the bridge with church bells and harp... there will undoubtedly be more, and I can't wait to add Cliff to the recorded version currently under way.
The other thing about the give and take between the two keyboardists is that it kind of turns into an adventure in egoless-ness, as they both occasionally find themselves in the position of playing each other's parts, Cliff in the Philharmonic and Berke in the Three-O (sometimes instead of the parts they created themselves)... so if you ever see Berke and Cliff slugging it out in a major dust-up, well, that might be the cause.
THE CHANDLER TRAVIS PHILHARMONIC is a 9-piece technicolor extravaganza from Boston that includes a horn section, string
bass, mandocello, guitar, keys, drums, accordion, and valet. George Carlin and NRBQ are among their longtime supporters; others include Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Of Montreal, Ween, and yer mother....more