In Chicken Soup for the Soul's Time to Thrive, I wrote about
my lifelong love affair with the Pacific Ocean in my story "Right Back
Where I Started From." Now Denise Bossarte, in her quietly delightful
volume of poems, rekindles my affection not only for the ocean itself,
but also for the shore. In Dreams of the Turtle King, Bossarte catalogs what she finds when she visits the south Florida beaches: people, animals, things and thoughts.
favorite poem, "Flock of Pelicans," brought a smile to my
daughter-in-law's face last week. I read her the poem and showed her the
delicate illustration by Nancy Standlee of a pelican in flight. Though she's in critical condition
in a local hospital, the mention of pelicans elicited a strong response. A while back, Mari Lou, as a "Pelican Partner," actually released a baby pelican back into the wild through a program sponsored by International Bird Rescue, in exchange for a $500 donation to that wildlife agency. This was her 50th birthday gift from my son. https://52906.thankyou4caring.org/Donate
Since these are unsettling days for me, I, too, am deriving great pleasure from opening this book at random each night before I turn off the bedside lamp. Last night I read "Boy Digging." It brought back memories of one afternoon in my childhood, where I dug nearly to China in the sands near San Francisco's old Playland at the Beach. In those years I didn't worry about tracking sand into the house, since somebody else would have to clean it up...not me. And I dug and dug and dug until I could nearly hear the rattle of rickshaws, the image the mention of China evoked in me when I was eight years old.
Bossarte and Standlee have paired to produce a book that will stir up pleasant memories for anybody who treasures the memories of carefree treks to the beach.
When I was growing up in Los Angeles in the fifties, one of my joys was to stand outside The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach on Sunday afternoons, listening to the wonderful music created by Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars, sometimes featuring Bob Cooper on tenor sax as well as others who formerly had played with Stan Kenton. When I returned to Southern California last fall, I'd hoped there'd be jazz clubs near my new home in Orange County to I could rekindle my love for the art.
If there are, I haven't found them. But, thanks to a piano teacher friend from the local branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women), I discovered Keyboard Concepts. Who would guess that a piano outlet in an industrial area of Fountain Valley would present world class jazz artists on Sunday afternoons...with free admission and complementary wine, cheese and desserts?
Last month I heard keyboard artist Dan Delaney team up with saxophonist Chris Stewart for a couple of hours of lyrical jazz standards, and even a rambunctious riff they composed on the spot. Stewart offered a couple of albums for those who contributed to the donation jar, and I snagged one that had his superb take on "Stars Fell on Alabama."
This past Sunday I arrived at Keyboard Concepts a bit early...I'd been in the neighborhood on other business. How fortunate that I was the first to arrive. I sat down on a folding chair near the rear, seeking to remain unobtrusive, while Delaney was warming up on the Yamaha 9 ft. concert grand. I didn't want to be a distraction. But when Delaney finished his piece, he got up and walked right over to me and asked if I was there for the 5 o'clock concert.
I explained I'd been there before, loved hearing him with Stewart, and remarked at what a great job Stewart had done on "Stars Fell on Alabama."
Delaney laughed. "I was in a restaurant somewhere in Arizona, where I now live," he said, "and I heard this fantastic rendition of that song. I thought to myself, wow, they're good. Just as I was about to mention this to my friend, I realized that I was hearing me, playing along with Doc Stewart and a rhythm section."
Delaney went on to say that jazz artists find few venues to play these days. Whether it's been karaoke or pop or rap that's driven it underground, not too many places feature traditional jazz any more. Keyboard Concepts, he added, is doing its utmost to reawaken a jazz scene in Orange County, with its end-of-the-month Sunday afternoon Sunday concerts.
Delaney believes that anybody can learn to play the piano, no matter how advanced in years. Consequently, he's been conducting a course at Keyboard Concepts, which he'll continue on Saturday mornings at Keyboard Concepts via Skype in coming months. He has put together a book, "Learn to Play Piano in Six Weeks or Less." It's described thusly on Amazon:
Many people wish they could sit down at the piano and simply play, their
hands flying over the keys as melodies pour out. With this simple,
achievable program that’s possible…in just six weeks. Using Dan
Delaney’s innovative chord playing techniques, as opposed to more
classical methods, musical newcomers and lapsed musicians can quickly
and easily gain skills. Each of the six weeks’ worth of lessons contains
several exercises. The classes build on each other, becoming
progressively more difficult as the player’s ability improves, and every
lesson includes sheet music, practice advice, and an evaluation at the
end. Plus, MP3 audios of the lessons will be available for free on
At this past Sunday's concert the Dan Delaney Trio, featuring Sinclair Lott on drums and Roger Shew on bass. Aside from opening with "Eleanor Rigby," the rest
of the program consisted of Delaney's original compositions.
Here's the Dan Delaney Trio
jazzing up the Beatles classic:
According to Delaney, the exceptionally talented pianist Chris Dawson
from Santa Monica will appear on Sunday, September 27, at 5:00 pm,
doors opening at 4:30. Those who want to attend should call (714)
544-0088 for further information or to RSVP. Here's Dawson in a stride version of "All of Me." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFPWZpoOxP8
Keyboard Concepts - Fountain Valley
18285 Euclid Ave., Fountain Valley, CA 92708 (Exit the 405 at Euclid)
Ph (714) 544-0088
Fx (714) 544-2706
Toll Free (800) 22-PIANO