Chilly Gonzales (Jason Charles Beck) is one odd motherfucker.
Let me ask you, how would you raise someone to become a well-known piano soloist? First, you would live in a big city. Want the best teachers? Gotta live in the city. Next, start the kid off early. Probably around two to four years old, assuming that this piano teacher panjandrum would even accept the blubbering child on as their student/protégé (it’s a weird fucking gift to be able to tell the genius children from the degenerates because of the circumference and longevity of each spit bubble). From there, this child would have to live a highly managed and scheduled lifestyle full of theory exams, hours of practice, a full engulfment into the classical society, lessons in elocution, etiquette, and also how to be a giant flaming garbage fire of a douche bag. Shit would be tough. And even if they did all this to absolute perfection, it wouldn’t guarantee a fucking thing. All this would do is give that piece of shit a leg up. Just ask any well-polished, well-educated, sight-reading piano playing douchebag living in their parents’ pool house bitching about the weather in Aspen and the thin legs on the rosé.
Well, what if a pianist released a couple rap albums? What if a pianist made a cover album featuring song by Daft Punk, Drake, and Lana Del Ray the same year they released their solo record? What if a Grammy award-winning piano soloist used to be a semi-famous Canadian pop star? Someone so semi-Canadian-famous that they opened up for the fucking Barenaked Ladies. Only a pianist with a rapper’s ego would create a school called “The Gonzervatory”. Only someone with the competitiveness of a pop star would break the world record for a solo-artist performance at 27 hours, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds. This is Jason “Chilly Gonzales” Beck. The road to his success doesn’t make any fucking sense. But with this unique and enthralling history comes a playing that doesn’t occur often in the solo piano world. This shit is modern day Satie with a jazzy edge.
Solo Piano III is the third part of Chilly’s solo piano records. Chilly’s compositions are not incredibly sophisticated in the way Rachmaninoff is. But, sweet fuck, is his shit catchy and chill. It melts the room into Vincent Van Gogh streaks. It reminds me of the first time I listened to a Satie record and everything in my world suddenly slowed down and chilled the fuck out. These smart and catchy songs are perfect in their own way. They aren’t there to show off piano chops. They are there to create a mood. And, just because this shit doesn’t sound sophisticated, doesn’t mean it isn’t. It’s incredibly hard to make a song sound this chill and also be memorable. This gift is why Chilly has worked with the likes of Daft Punk, Feist, and Drake. What makes him so fucking memorable is not what he plays, but the silences he leaves between each note. Take a listen while you go about your day and try not to enjoy the vibe it brings.
So, how do you raise a kid to be a great piano soloist? Teach the kid to play their heart, essence, and soul. Robots can play the right notes; only humans can play the right silences.