You can find him playing the Parkway Grill with a bass player on most Fridays, we’re told. He also books all the music for the Parkway Grill and The Chop House. Oh yes, and he teaches in the jazz studies program at USC.
Somehow, David Arnay also finds the time to record, and his newest CD, called 8, is the reason for his “launch gig” at The Blue Whale jazz club downtown on Tuesday, May 14th. All are welcome.
The press kit tells of a busy, working musician:
Arnay went to college in Ithaca, New York. He became involved with the “very vibrant local music scene, eventually joining the popular and somewhat notorious Zobo Funn Band, featuring guitar monster David Torn.”
It was more of an eclectic art rock-fusion-prog whatever you wanna call it thing. And we weren’t even in the digital age, so Torn wasn’t yet involved with creating the loops and heavily effected textures that he would later do on the ECM label. He was still in his shredder post-blues phase and was just playing the hell out of the guitar.
Upon moving to Pasadena in 1987, Arnay became involved in the L.A. scene. A significant mentor during his early years in Los Angeles was tenor saxophonist and former Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock sideman Bennie Maupin.
I was introduced to Bennie on a project we were doing for a songwriter, and he took an interest in my playing and writing. In 1994, he brought me into his quintet, which included Alphonso Johnson on bass. That was a fantastic experience, of course. It really affected me as a musician a great deal. He really helped me to listen more carefully, to leave more space and respect silence. He is one of the absolute monsters of all time, and he’s still kicking.
Arnay’s first recording as a leader, 1997’s Daddy’s Groove, featured guest appearances from Maupin and Sheppard on reeds, Carpenter and Johnson on basses and Erskine on drums. His follow-up, 2003’s Blues…and Then Some, was a trio project with drummer Dave Tull and bassist Larry Steen.
I have been playing the piano since I was five years old. Initially, I locked onto Oscar Peterson as the sort of fountainhead. He was quickly followed by Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Bill Evans and the usual pantheon of great jazz piano players. I do very much see myself as coming straight out of the mainstream tradition of what it means to play jazz piano.
Arnay continues to perform every Friday at Parkway Grill in Pasadena, a gig he’s held down since 1989.
Parkway’s an outstanding establishment, a wonderful ongoing place for me to keep my chops in shape and work in the duo format with a rotating squad of first-call bass players. So if people are in town, they can always check me out there.
If you can’t make it to Pasadena, check out 8, the pianist’s most impressive outing to date.
“The music of David Arnay is the fresh work of a serious artist whose time has come. Each track is filled with brilliant improvisations created by passionate musical minds. This beautiful project is an outstanding sign that jazz is absolutely in great hands. A job well done by a musician who truly deserves wider recognition.” — Bennie Maupin
At the CD release show, Arnay and his guys will perform the album in its entirety for the first set.
David Arnay: 8 Launch Party
Tuesday, May 14th
Doors open at 8 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m.
Cover charge, $15
The Blue Whale Live Jazz + Art Space
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St., Ste 301
Los Angeles 90012
Parking in basement garage below Weller Court, $5
Street parking available