Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
My childhood was spent in Saint Louis, about a mile from the Mississippi River. When I was a little kid, there was still one (huge!) riverboat, “The Admiral”, that would cruise up and down the river every day. They had a steam calliope on board, a real old-fashioned one, which played Scott Joplin, other old-time American and light classical music. Oh! what a thrill that was.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
J. S. Bach, The Beatles, Bowie. I call them MY three B’s. Add two more “B’s”, Brahms and Chuck Berry. On a pianistic front, surely Art Tatum and Fats Waller are the about two greatest piano geniuses of the twentieth century. I’ll never tire of listening to them, or be good enough at copying them. Ditto for Monk. The Russians of course, The Holy Trinity of Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, and Scriabin. The greatest musical genius JS Bach. An equation: three measures of an Art Tatum solo = one entire act of a Sondheim musical = one page, any page of “The Well Tempered Clavier” = the entire career of most of us.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I’d have to say the self-imposed pressure of always trying to produce tangible art. People who are programmers, web innovators, movie actors, and successful real estate agents have other challenges. In my world, the external successes don’t count as much as the internal.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I must say, I have no pride. I am always happiest with the latest thing I’m doing, in this case it’s my new record, “The Beautiful Man From Mars” (released June 2017).
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I do have a tip jar. What would you like to hear? I suppose if I sat down right now, I could pull of some pretty wicked stride piano.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theater. The sound from the stage is incredible. Second favorite is the Sheldon Memorial Concert Hall in Saint Louis. If you’re standing center stage at that place you can hear every sound in the entire room.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
My most memorable experiences are painful and awkward.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I would say, if you are an instrumentalist, you must practice at least four hours a day, for a period of 3-4 years, until you decide where your career may lie, or not lie. You need to find a support network of people whom you trust. If you’re a composer, you must formally compose 3-4 hours per day. That’s the rule- PLAY. But remember that “playing” an instrument is similar to “playing” when you are a child – you will get bruised, you will get hurt. It might even kill you. That’s why PRACTICE is essential, the more you PRACTICE the less likely you are to be hurt when you PLAY.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Right where I am now – practicing, working, enjoying life.
What is your present state of mind?
I am anxious to get back to work!
Jack Spann’s BEAUTIFUL MAN FROM MARS, inspired by David Bowie, was released June 16th, 2017 in CD, Vinyl LP, and Digital formats through Big Boo Music / OARFIN / Alliance. The Saint Louis native has lived in New York City for the last 16 years and established himself as one of the city’s most in-demand pianists/keyboardists. His reputation led to an introduction to David Bowie’s producer, Tony Visconti who hired him to play on the demos for what would be Bowie’s final album, ‘Blackstar’.