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The Versatile Musicality of Dave Peck

When I first heard Seattle jazz pianist Dave Peck in the 1980s, he was the first-call pianist for almost every internationally known jazz musician who came to town and needed a pick-up band. That being the case, I had the opportunity to hear him a lot — and I loved what I heard. It was amazing to see him adapt his skills to the needs of a wide variety of visiting musicians and still maintain his own strong musical personality.

As much as I admired him, though, I was scared to tell him so. He had (and has) a somewhat brooding and mysterious physical presence that kept me from approaching him. When I finally did, however, I was pleasantly surprised and greatly relieved. In addition to being a fine composer and pianist, Peck is a gracious man with a wonderfully wicked wit. These characteristics come through loud and clear in this interview with KPLU's Jazz Northwest host, Jim Wilke.

The interview took place the day before the Dave Peck Trio (with bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera) was to head into a Seattle nightclub to record a live CD. And, though it doesn't come up in the interview, the recording date was a sort of quiet comeback for Peck. A few months before the gig, he wasn't sure he'd ever play piano again due to a problem with one of his thumbs which he describes as "a weird congenital thing that waited until I was 52 to bother me." Luckily, the required surgery was successful, and Peck regained full use of all his digits. And, believe me, he uses each and every one of them in this performance.

More About Dave Peck

Beginning as a trumpeter, Dave Peck made his transition to the piano after meeting Marian McPartland at a summer jazz camp. Throughout the '70s, he performed with legends like Chet Baker, Sonny Stitt and Lee Konitz. Peck has won accolades from Pacific Northwest jazz publications and seen his compositions recorded by saxophonist Bud Shank.

Copyright 2007 KNKX Public Radio

Nick Morrison