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71 year old Indian Jazz Pianist [Aug. 12th, 2009|09:25 pm]
suit_dude
Yes, I know - the title of this post sounds like the set-up to a bad joke, but in this case, it's straight on the money.

In 1984 I was a 16 year-old kid and had a part time job working at a long-gone music store called Palings on Pitt Street. This was back in the days before Pitt Street even had a mall. Christ I'm old.

I worked in the rock section, selling guitars, amps and synths. The brass and woodwind section was managed by a guy called Andrew Speight who must have been in his early twenties at the time and has long since moved to the States and earned a reputation as a seriously good saxophonist.

One afternoon in late 84 as we were closing up, Andrew asked if I wanted to go for a beer at a place close by called Centrepoint Tavern. I told him I was underage and he said, "No problem, the bar staff are all friends of mine, I'll take care of it".

So we closed our sections, left work and wandered a hundred metres up the road and walked into the place.

He introduced me to the resident pianist/vocalist. To be specific, I was introduced to "Cec Dorsey". My first thoughts were "'Cec Dorsey'? Bullshit - that's a stage-name if I've ever heard one", simply because the guy loooked like he'd crawled out of the Ganges after a hard day sacrificing Tree-Frogs to Krishna or whatever the hell it is that hard-core Indian guys do.

Within five minutes of that meeting, I no longer gave a damn what he called himself.

Cec played jazz piano, and Cec played beautifully. I'd never heard jazz played live before and Andrew and I stayed there listening to the guy until closing time. From that day onwards I was a jazz fan and if you know me, you'll know that I still am.

Cec and I got on very well. I loved (but couldn't play) his jazz work, and he loved (but couldn't play) the Jimi Hendrix material I was immersed in at the time. We spent a lot of time together and of course I learned far more from him than he ever learned from me.

We lost touch for about ten years, but I'm happy to say that in the last few months we've started hanging out again.

He's an old man now and doesn't get out that much anymore, but still he managed to make the journey over to my place about a month back to catch up, do a little cooking and spend the afternoon playing some music.

I beefed up my home studio last November when I turned 40. I now have a 200 track digital studio in my study and on the day Cec turned up I realised I had someone with some real talent within range of my microphone.

I always liked Cec's version of "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole, so I asked if he'd play it for me.

He nailed it on the first take like a true pro,

And for those of you who are even remotely curious, here it is (click on the "free-user" option to download it):

http://rapidshare.com/files/266528859/Cec_Dorsey.mp3

He's 71 now, so of course his voice is a little frail, but sweet Jesus, he still sounds wonderful.

And you know what? After all these years I've still never asked him what his "real" name is. When you can play like this, you can call yourself whatever you damn well want.

I love this man to death.

SD
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Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2011-09-26 08:53 am (UTC)
It was a very nice idea! Just want to say thank you for the information you have shared. Just continue writing this kind of post. I will be your loyal reader. Thanks again.
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[User Picture]From: Lisa-Marie Waterreus
2015-07-13 09:18 am (UTC)

I used to sing with Cec ( cecil) Dorsey in that very Tavern!

In 1985-87 I used to sing once in a while with Cec at the piano! Our meeting was even more amazing. Many years ago, in the 1940's through to mid 50's, my aunty used to be a well known singer in India. I am a kiwi. I went to Australia in 1985, and somehow found myself in the Centrepoint Tavern enjoying Cec's incredible playing. I used to quietly sing along as I sat actually around the piano, at the built on part it had. One day, he said to me that I should sing something and he would play. Having never sung in public before, I declined, but he kept egging me on to do so over the next few weeks ( yes, it became my regular place to go after work a few nights a week, dinner and Cec!) So, finally, I agreed, and sang a Whitney Houston number, popular at the time. Then a Streisand or two maybe. Anyway, to cut this short, Cec said to me one night, " You know, you sound like a woman I used to play piano for over 30 years ago, in India". You guessed it....he had been my aunt's piano player 30 years before that in India...amazng coincidence or what??!!! I wish I had been back to Sydney to see him, I assume he has passed on now.
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From: promo_gear
2017-04-26 11:16 am (UTC)

Re: I used to sing with Cec ( cecil) Dorsey in that very Tavern!

Ha ha... love both your stories.... no he's not in heaven yet and he's still playing like he did back then... but with more feeling :). Apart from other engagements, he has a regular lunchtime gig at a well known club in the city on Fridays. Like you guys, I used to frequent that tavern we all got to know so well in downtown Sydney in those days (and nights)... ahh the good old days of Sydney nightlife, music and jazz bars :). I catch up and speak with Ces fairly often, so will pass on these very interesting stories from you both, which in fact I actually accidentally stumbled across by chance whilst trying to find some music info.
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[User Picture]From: Lisa-Marie Waterreus
2017-04-26 11:32 am (UTC)

Re: I used to sing with Cec ( cecil) Dorsey in that very Tavern!

Thank you Promo_Gear, I would love it if you would pass on my fond memories of Cec to him, and remind him of our short singing stint together after his remembering my aunt from so many years before. Please tell him I still think of him and his music often. He is welcome to contact me. Regards,
Lisa
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