Meet the Artist……Liam Stevens, piano
Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
I loved football, but I wasn’t going to make it as a footballer even though I loved it. Then I discovered that I didn’t have to play only classical music on the piano. Joining a soul band at high school was probably a big influence.
I was at home in Wigan where I’m from and I watched a TV programme about Oscar Peterson. I think it was an all-night thing, and I thought that’s what I want to do, although I will always love classical music as well.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, Wynton Kelly, Kenny Kirkland, Dan Nimmer, Benet Mclean, Benny Green, Ahmad Jamal, Nathan Britton, Ray Brown, Ed Thigpen, Vernell Fournier, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Leo Wright, Clifford Brown, Wynton Marsalis, Phil Woods,,Sonny Stitt, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Wes Montgomery, Nigel Price, Andy Davies, and Joe Pass, (I could go on forever) I tried to include some British guys!
Georges Cziffra, Evgeny Kissin, Daniil Trifonov, Anthony Hewitt, Vladimir Horowitz, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckermann, Benjamin Grosvenor, Sviatoslav Richter, Glenn Gould, and Rachmaninoff
I’m also a big fan of choral music such as Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and Bach’s St Matthew Passion
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Being consistent within my own playing
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I’ve only ever recorded one album, and I am very proud of it, although that said, I do prefer playing live.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
Jazz Standards and jazz that really swings. I enjoy playing stride piano as I am a massive Art Tatum fan
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I usually let everyone else pick the tunes
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Piano Bar Soho and most of the jazz clubs in London. I prefer intimacy and having the band close. I think we play more as a unit in these situations. I’m happy to rock up and play anywhere as long as it’s good vibes! If I had to say, probably the smaller places with the smaller audiences. That way we can play more musically as a trio rather than just trying to make lots of noise to overpower a loud audience or fill a big room with sound
What is your most memorable concert experience?
My first solo concert was terrifying but loads of fun. First time playing with Aydenne Simone and Benet Mclean was a roast!
My first late night gig at Pizza Express Soho. I was about 19 and my drummer Joe Dessauer had just turned 18, I think. We were both scared but it was such a good eye-opener as to what we needed to do, and what we could really achieve. My first solo concert was the same, really nerve-wracking but I learnt so much in terms of what I needed to do and achieve
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
It’s different for everyone. I just really got into a few specific piano players and tried to emulate their style.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Same place as I am now! Quite a privilege to play piano for a living
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It doesn’t exist!
What is your most treasured possession?
My hands. Gotta pay those bills, man!
What do you enjoy doing most?
Cooking, Reading, Beer, Wine, Scotch, Pub, Theatre and watching football
What is your present state of mind?
‘Blue Skies’, Liam Stevens’ debut disc, with Aydenne Simone, is available now.
Liam performs and his trio perform with Aydenne Simone at The Bull’s Head as part of the Blue Skies tour on Thursday 5th October. Full details of all concerts here