Musicians, like all art discipline practitioners, are a special breed. Doesn’t matter where in the world you are, what culture you come from, what color of skin you have, when You last Played your instrument, even if decades ago, you’ve got instant connection, instant family with those who practice, perform,
delight, enjoy & the like.
I’ve traveled, performed and recorded with some of the greatest musicians/orchestras in the world, and each musician can regale you with stories of being on the road having met complete strangers tell them stories of making music as a child or a teen. Instant connection, instant family.
I met Maryam in a coffee shop in the flatiron district. Essentially knowing very little of one another, outside of the fact that she is a Persian pianist and I had once dated a Persian and a pianist, we connected having no background to speak of except music. The rest didn’t seem to matter.
Bonding over Bach and hour upon hour practice sessions, I felt for her as I had felt for so many fresh musicians off that one way flight to Laguardia. She’d been in New York only a hand full of months whereas me, over a decade and change in one of if not the hardest city in the world, I finally started to feel as if I had firm footing. You can imagine the thoughts running through my head.
Suddenly, like all musicians in any place in the world, one has that rush of adrenaline to relay everything. “Ok, this is what you need to do… talk to these people, reach out to these organizations, see if you can start subbing here, or teaching there. What are your side hustles? What’s your plan for New York. Is it New York or nowhere? Give me all the details and I’ll point you in whatever directions I can.”
You could think of this as some sort of altruistic act on my part, but really what it is is… New York is hard. Music is hard. Making music in this city can be hard, especially when you’re first starting out, coming from a place where you’re a known quantity. College, grad school, small town USA or in this case, Tehran. So as family would have it, we musicians, or at least I feel that it’s our responsibility give as much as we can so that maybe Maryam’s struggle, like so many others that have come before and after me, won’t be as hard or at least struggle in different ways.
And so we met for a coffee a few more times and then a photo shoot was plan and a musical conversation was had. These images to me are music in motion. I’m bored with the traditional, sit at the piano and look at the camera. As we talked on set we asked one another “how do we convey pianist, musician, performance, artist, without the ivory keys?”
And here’s what happened in a very familiar way.