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Pianist Daniel Clarke!
16 May 2009 07:35pm
Hi girls! I want to introduce you to an amazing musician,Daniel Clark. My piano teacher taught him when he was younger. He truly is one of the nicest people and I know you will find him encouraging and just plain fun to listen to. As a treat, he made up a song on the spot and called it “Taylor.” I placed a video clip of it at the end of the interview. You will see how much talent he has! In fact, he will be appearing on Leno this Wednesday night (May 20th) playing for Mandy Moore


P.S. Thanks again Daniel... You rock!

Taylor: How long have you been playing piano?

Daniel: I have been playing the piano my whole life, but I’m 29 now and I started playing at about age five or six.


Taylor: Besides piano lessons, did you go to college to study music?

Daniel: I did take piano lessons all through elementary, middle, and high school and then went to Virginia Commonwealth University.  They happened to have a really great jazz program and I studied with a terrific Jazz piano teacher there.

Taylor: Would you call yourself a jazz musician?

Daniel: Yes, but I use that term loosely. I’m an improvising musician, so I can play any type of music. I practice classical, jazz, folk, and pop music. I know lots of great classical musicians who don’t really know what they are playing. They could read anything on a page, but they have no idea what it means and why it works. However, a jazz musician does know what it all means and why it all works. I can go into a recording session and having never heard the song before, hear it one time and then record on it.

Daniel’s circa 1800’s pump organ.

Taylor: How did you get to play for famous people? How were you discovered?

Daniel: I started playing with Mandy Moore because I knew the drummer and bass player that were playing on her record. They knew her producer. He was working on Mandy’s record and they didn’t have a piano player. I was at the right place at the right time.  If I wasn’t a good musician and a good person, they wouldn’t have said “this is the guy.” Mandy and I hit it off, so when it came time for her to tour she said that she would love to have me come and play. There are a million guys she could have chosen in L.A., but she called on me because I was a good person. You spend 95% of your time not playing music and my dad’s always said, “You could be the best musician in the world, but if you aren't a good person, nobody is going to want to work with you.”


Taylor: Who all have you played for?

Daniel: Mandy Moore, Katy Lang, Rachel Yamagata, and I soon hope to work with Ryan Adams the country artist. Just the other day, I played with Katy Lang at the Kennedy Center for President Obama. We were on the stage with the National Symphony Orchestra. It was exciting.

Getting a few jazz interpretation lessons from Daniel.

Taylor: Where have you traveled while playing?

Daniel: I have been to Australia, Europe, Mexico, Canada, Russia, South Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, and all over the United States.


Taylor: Is there a really fun experience you can share?

Daniel: I went to Russia for the first time 5 years ago and since jazz is America’s music, they will send groups over to places that don’t have much western influence. We become like family with the people, so one time we went to this thing called a bunya which is like a sauna. They took us to these mountains and there was snow on the ground. We were in the sauna and supposed to take a cold plunge in this frozen lake. We are saying, “I don’t know man, I don’t know about this (Laughs)!” The sauna does get super hot so I went ahead and jumped in the lake. It’s the craziest thing I think I've ever done! I had this mole on my back and the next day it was kind of painful and it was turning black.  I’m thinking “That’s not good!” I looked back the day after that and it was completely gone! (Lots of laughs!)


Taylor: What is the hardest thing you have ever had to play?

Daniel: In high pressure situations, I’ve been able to shine and for some reason, I’m able to focus. Doug Richards was the director of the jazz program at VCU when I was in high school in an all Richmond jazz band. He had come into the rehearsal and was standing over my back. We were sight reading a song and all the music was written out, so I couldn’t just improvise my way through it. He was watching me sight read this piece and I was sweating and super nervous. I sight read that thing perfectly!! I’ve never sight read anything that good in my life!


Taylor: If someone asked you to play your favorite piece right now, what would you play?

Daniel: That would really change from this hour to the next.  Instead, I’d probably sit down and make something up! If you asked me that earlier today, I’d probably play a jazz song or one of Mandy’s songs.


Click to play "Taylor's Song" by Daniel Clarke

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