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  • Writer's pictureGregory Allison

My baby's back!

I'm talking about my lovely piano, of course. It has been at my old apartment since I moved out in January and I've been missing it! I bought this piano five years ago at a shop in Portland that no longer exists called the Immortal Piano Company (if the name stands true then I do believe it to exist somewhere). Owner Martha Taylor is a wonderfully eccentric person and her knowledge of pianos, especially American pianos, is vast. Every time I walked into her shop I felt as if time stopped and nothing mattered but the tones and inner workings of these huge instruments. She was always excited to educated anyone who was willing to listen about the inner workings of a piano. She had pianos in various states of repair and would always bring me to her latest project, cursing at the number of joints that had to be aligned just perfectly for a single key to function. She closed her shop around 2018, claiming to me that she was done fixing these ancient beasts and that she was offered a book deal to write about the history of pianos in America.

Excerpt from Mad Rush by Philip Glass

The piano I bought from Martha is a Mueller & Haines console upright from around 1920. When I sat down to play it in the shop, I fell in love immediately and knew I couldn't leave the shop without it. It was the dark varnish, the stately legs, and the brightness and clarity of tone that sold me. I played and taught on this piano in Portland for two years before moving to LA, and when I settled I had it shipped down to my apartment. It was a perfect fit in that South Pasadena apartment, but my stay did not last. I left it there until I could find a permanent spot for it and now, after seven months apart, we've reunited in my rehearsal space in downtown LA.

An improvisation from the day my piano arrived at the rehearsal space.

An instrument is a tool and something with which a musician builds a personal relationship. This piano and I have composed together at all hours of the day and night, and I have touched those keys in all emotional states. The instrument never fails to aide me in finding what I'm ultimately seeking, which is a place of rest in the present and freedom from the mind that is so keen on keeping us in the past or planning for the future. I'm happy to have my baby back.

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