Pianist Frank French interprets masterpieces by the New Orleans composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Decades before ragtime, Gottschalk was writing syncopated pieces which draw from the ethnis styles he heard in his many travels to South America and the Caribbean. French gives a freshness and rhythmic vitality to this music which elude many pianists.
"...vivid virtuosic music...colorful melodies set against syncopated rhythms..."
-- The Los Angeles Time (on French performing Gottshalk
About The Company:
The recordings of Viridiana Productions, L.L.C. represent a grass roots movement designed to promote the new music Terra Verde, as well as various traditions from which it draws. Terra Verde, a contemporary and distinctly American musical art form, fuses elements of European romanticism with New World ethnic styles, such as ragtime, jazz, Latin-American and country.The result is a rich and vital language for our time, and a new stage in the evolution of piano-based composition. Viridiana exists to champion the composers and performers of Terra Verde, and to pay tribute to the innovative and sometimes unheralded forerunners to this exciting new realm of American music.
About The Artist:
Frank French was born in Oakland, 1952 and grew up in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district. A survivor of the Psychedelic 1960's, he became part of the city's "outside" music scene in the early 1970's while completing his musical education at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University. It was during this time that he became acquainted with Cuban and Porto Rican dance music as pianist with "Papo y su Preferida", noting the immediate connection between Antillean music and piano Ragtime.
Moving to Vienna, Austria in the late 1970's he assumed the lifestyle of a Bohemian, tuning pianos by day and bolstering Vienna's counter-cultural cabaret scene by night. Teaming up with Latin Americans living there, he formed one of the earliest Salsa bands in Central Europe, introducing the music to Austrians, Swiss and Germans, and paving the way for noted performers like Ray Baretto to make debut performances in that part of the world. During his Austrian residence he also found time to record the entire Well-Tempered Clavier of J.S. Bach, thus securing a firm footing in the music of both the Old and New Worlds.
Returning to the United States in 1983 he became a noted figure in the world of syncopated piano music, first as a performer and later as composer of such notable and widely- recorded instrumentals as Belle of Louisville and Buckdown Buck. Moving to Colorado in 1990, he founded and directed the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival and Institute working as a musical activist in schools, community concerts, radio and community television. In 1996 he visited Cuba with the Pianos to Havana project and subsequently concertized in Cuba and the United States raising funds to send pianos and technical support to music schools in Cuba and to improve relations between people of both nations.
Frank French espouses the Creole Tradition of the melting pot of cultures in the music of the New World, especially that of the United States, the Carribean and Brazil. As a composer, teacher, and performer he continues to emphasize progressive assimilation of musical and cultural concepts in order to create an aesthetic and societal texture in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. His teaching seminars include both introductory and hands-on sessions for all ages and all levels.