Brenda's Blog | 1010 Park Place
Browsing Tag

Brenda’s Blog

— Life —

Photograph by Chris Seriale
pin it

Peter Cincotti’s grandmother couldn’t have known that her gift of a toy piano would create the stage for her then, three-year-old grandson, to someday be a performer and a recording artist. Now over 30 years later, Peter Cincotti is releasing his fifth studio album, Long Way From Home, on October 13.

He’s been called a virtuoso pianist and the rebirth of cool.

A native New Yorker, Peter Cincotti was four when he began taking piano lessons. From the start, music was presented to him as something fun. His mother approached his piano teacher and asked if Peter’s lessons could be 10 minutes of theory and scales and the rest of the hour devoted to whatever he wanted to play. His teacher, a classical pianist, agreed so when Peter expressed an interest in the Jeopardy TV game show theme and Batman movie music, she taught him how to play them.

Peter Cincotti’s resume begins when he was seven and Harry Connick, Jr. had him sit in on one of his shows. At 12, Peter turned pro, playing piano in New York clubs, then later singing as well. When he was 15, he toured with Harry Connick, Jr. He’s performed at Carnegie Hall, L’Olympia in Paris, the Montreux Jazz Festival, collaborated with Andrea Bocelli, been featured in the movie, Spiderman 2, and played himself in Season 3 of the hit Netflix series, House of Cards, where he sang a duet with Kevin Spacey. If that’s not impressive enough, more than one of his albums have hit the top of the Billboard charts.

Last week I caught up Peter Cincotti to talk about his new album, Long Way From Home. 

BRENDA: Talk to me about the developmental shift from your first album to your new one, Long Way From Home.

PETER: My first album I was 18, and now as a 34-year-old, if you look at it incrementally, there’s definitely a connective line. On the first two albums I came out as a jazz artist, but even within that genre, I was trying to find existing songs that would allow me to show my voice and my style so I covered everything from Blood Sweat & Tears to “The Rainbow Connection.” I’ve had influences from all over, but it all came together on my third album which was the first record I started recording only my own music. Those first two albums were needed steps for me to kind of find that base.

BRENDA: I loved your delicious take on “Bali Ha’i” from your second album in 2004. I’d only heard that from the musical South Pacific.

PETER: That’s the perfect example! At that time I was looking for ways to express myself. I’d hear songs and my writing at the time was within the arrangemental world, so I would take a song like that and rearrange it and find myself in existing songs. But then that wasn’t enough for me, and I needed more originality.

BRENDA: Phil Ramone produced your first two albums. Did working with him and David Foster change the way you interpreted existing pieces or composed music? 

PETER: It changed a lot. They’re both very different. I worked with Phil, a lot, during my interpretive days, if we can call it that. Phil knew how to let you shine in the studio. It was a very different style of producing than some of the other guys I’ve worked with. He knew how to let you be and get the most out of you without much tampering with what you had. But I think even with Billy Joel, who’s similar, he found the best way to let Billy Joel be Billy Joel, and I know he did that with me. As a first experience, you’re completely spoiled not only by Phil—everyone loved him—but by the best engineers, the best studios and the quality of everything.

Then moving to David Foster… It was one after the other for me as a young person. David was a very different style, but perfect for me as a songwriter. Again, he captured what I had. He’s a guy who can actually sit down and play and sing and write and arrange and write the string parts, the stuff that I would do. We collaborated in a way I really loved. David’s very direct. He’s a no BS guy and if you know me, I’m kind of the same way, so in the studio we really cut to the core of things and moved quickly. I’m really proud of that album we made.

BRENDA: You’re arranger/producer on your new album, Long Way From Home

PETER: Right. This time I did everything.

BRENDA: Was that freeing, it a little scary or maybe both?

PETER: It was both. I got signed when I was 18 and had basically 10 years of major label deals between Concord Records and Warner Brothers. They ran their course, and then I was suddenly free, and I knew so much more than I ever did and had a better idea of what I wanted and how to get the idea out of my head and onto the page… especially after having worked with these producers so closely for so many years. So I went down to the Jersey Shore and built a studio. It was a three-year process. If I really knew the depths I was about to go into, I might not have done it.

The first year was just technical, learning how to use the mic and things I really had no interest in. After I got the hang of certain things, it became hugely beneficial on the creative end because I’d have things at my fingertips I never had before. I could have a creative idea and lay down record quality immediately. In that sense it’s very fulfilling but a lot of work.

BRENDA: When you started out in your career, did you think you could write songs?

PETER: Yes, I did. That was one of the first things I did. I remember I had a ton of songs by the time I was nine. They were very, very pop. I was studying all these different styles on the piano. I loved boogie-woogie, Jerry Lee Lewis, and I loved the blues and rock ’n’ roll and people like Fats Domino and Chubby Checker. I knew there was a way to connect all the tissue which, on the last few albums, particularly this one, I’ve been doing a hybrid of so many different things. But yes, writing was something I did without thinking about it.

BRENDA: Writing, producing, recording, touring… That’s a long cycle. Do you find you have to shed that before your creative juices start flowing again?

Photograph by Amy Rapp

PETER: That’s a great question. I struggle with that—finding balance—because it’s an extreme kind of a life. When you’re on the road, you’re in a bubble, and when you’re in a studio, you’re the opposite extreme, for me at least, particularly on a record that’s all encompassing. I’m very conscious now in my life to try and find that balance and build-in the recuperative time because it’s key.

This (Long Way From Home) is a record that’s completely mine for the first time. On the business front we’re handpicking our partners. We’re carefully choosing who’s involved and manufacturing CDs and really just replicating the whole label system with partners around the world, press and social media teams in different places. It’s like a startup on the business front. There’s a lot going on right now.

BRENDA: It sounds like you’re starting your own label. 

PETER: Technically it is that, but without other artists.

BRENDA: What would you like the readers of 1010ParkPlace to know? 

PETER: I hope they appreciate this record. It’s going to a demographic who knows this is definitely an album. We’ve put a lot of time into the credits, the booklets and making a full-length record in a world that’s digital and fickle and has ADD. LOL! We made the opposite of that, so I hope they like it.

Someone said “If you threw Billy Joel, Oscar Peterson and One Republic into a blender, something close to this album would come out.” To order the full-length CD album of Long Way From Home, visit Peter Cincotti’s website. To buy individual songs, check iTunes. Enjoy!

— Relationships —

pin it

This was my little man, Sam. If you look closely, you can see fur peeking out from between his toes, a sure sign he was a house puppy, which was fine with me. Being an indoor dog made it easier for me to give him hugs, rub his soft silky ears and tell him how much he was loved and adored.

Sam captured our hearts the second we saw him. James said Sam was the only dog he knew who’d read and memorized the “Puppy Handbook.”

Continue Reading

— Relationships —

pin it

There aren’t many things cuter than a soft, snuggly puppy who nuzzles your neck and whispers, “Adopt me! Adopt me!” Adopting one puppy is a good thing, but two? When I asked my girlfriends why they didn’t stop me, they said, “You’ve always had dogs, so we figured you knew what you were getting into.” Yes, but never puppies! When I was younger and the same friends started having babies, I didn’t understand the degree to which their lives had changed, overnight, but now… That’s me!

I also have postpartum depression, and I didn’t even give birth!

Continue Reading

— Relationships —

I STILL haven't unpacked my photos, so I don't have one of my grandmother. This is me, a few years older than when I 'axed Mamie's floor!'
pin it

One of my earliest memories is sitting in a pool of Wesson Oil, smacking my hands on the linoleum floor my grandmother had just waxed. When my grandmother, I called her Mamie, told me this story, she said she walked into her kitchen to see me smearing Wesson Oil around with my hands and saying, “Axing Mamie’s floors! I’m axing Mamie’s floors!”

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother, wishing I could tell her how much I admired her strength and thank her for being my role model.

Continue Reading

— Life —

“What’s Going On?,” Marvin Gaye’s rallying cry against America’s festering hate and social unrest, is still as relevant today as when it was released in 1971.

“My loved ones, today is the birthplace of forever.” Marvin Gaye

Continue Reading

— Life —

pin it

Many of you liked last week’s blog, Talented and Expensive Feet. I’m not sure whether it was because I kicked off a conversation about foot problems, or I included a story from my friend, the madam. While we can do without titilating sex stories (another time), we can’t escape our aching feet. This makes me think of Nora Ephron’s book, “I Feel Sad About My Neck,” except in addition to my turkey neck, I feel sad about my feet.

Forgive me, dear feet! I’ve been so unkind. For most of my life I’ve taken you for granted.

Continue Reading

— Life —

pin it

The podiatrist says age and gravity are having their way with my feet. The toes on my right foot have begun to curve backward toward the sole of my foot—hammertoes—so the end of my poor middle toe is bearing the weight when I walk. As a result I’ve developed a callus on the bottom of that toe, which I tried to trim, but it only made matters worse. When I asked the doctor what the little dot in the center is—thinking it’s a “core” of some sort, like with a corn—he said it’s my bone.

Egads!

Continue Reading

— Relationships —

@Photos by Brenda Ray Coffee
pin it

This morning a television at the gym flashed a picture of Michael Irvin, former wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, wearing his number 88 uniform. It reminded me of when I was a young photographer for the San Antonio Light and covered the Cowboy home games from the sidelines. I had a mad, mad, insanely mad, schoolgirl crush on another number 88, Cowboy wide receiver, Drew Pearson.

Is it considered cheating to have a serious crush on someone other than your husband?

Continue Reading

— Relationships —

From 'Girlfriends of a Certain Age,' ©Ramborella LLC
pin it

A lot of people ask me how I decided to start 1010ParkPlace. For over 10 years I was focused on my breast cancer, my subsequent Top Breast Cancer Blog and the unexpected death of my husband. Not surprisingly there came a time when I didn’t want to write about cancer anymore. During a conversation with a friend, he asked what I really wanted to do with my life? My answer came tumbling out.

“I want to connect with women about more than cancer.”

Continue Reading

— Life —

pin it

A few years ago Fifi Froelich reached the point where she couldn’t see herself living the rest of her life in Dayton, Ohio. Not that there’s anything wrong with Dayton. She’d lived there for 66 years and worked as an educational psychologist in an urban school system. All her life she’d done everything she was supposed to do. She was glad she’d been there when everyone needed her, but after she retired, Fifi needed more. She wondered, “Is that all there is?”

“I told my husband if I sit anymore on the couch, I’ll die of a stroke.”

Continue Reading