Dale Britt - My Musical Journey

I grew up in a musical family in Crisfield, Maryland. At age 16, I took a few piano lessons from my uncle. After that I knew I wanted to be a musician, so I taught myself by experimenting with ideas on the piano and listening to jazz piano recordings. I also taught myself to read music. I had a natural talent for music and art. My many paintings and drawings feature mostly Eastern Shore scenes, while my music encompasses a much greater variety.

By age 17, I was playing in local bands. The only records in the house were old Glen Miller and Benny Goodman 78's. Teddy Wilson was the first pianist I ever heard, followed by Erroll Garner. At the time I was playing swing and boogie-woogie. Then my cousin, also a pianist, introduced me to Hampton Hawes and Andre Previn. They played more modern jazz, and I tried to play more like them. I abandoned swing and boogie-woogie, although I occasionally play some, just for old times sake. At about the same time, I took a course in piano tuning and have continued to tune pianos with an "ear" that only a skilled musician can supply.

Then I heard the late Bill Evans on the Miles Davis album Kind Of Blue. He blew my mind. I didn't know at the time that he would go on to be one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. I bought all of his albums and CD's. My biggest influences were Bill Evans, Hampton Hawes, Andre Previn, Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett, among others.

My piano style is full of improvisation. Although, part of my style evolved from listening to others, I have, over the years, developed a style of my own. People used to tell me I sounded like Red Garland but at the time I had never heard him play. It is very exciting, not knowing what is coming next, while playing a song. I'm always looking for new ways to play a song, with new chords, new voicings, etc. I believe that is what jazz is all about and what gives the musician the power to evoke strong emotions from his audience.

Although jazz is my favorite music, I enjoy playing many different kinds of music. Since that is what I do on the job, I have really enjoyed my career in music thus far.

I started to play in clubs while still in high school and have played full time ever since. I have played solo, with my band and with other bands. In 1998, I met Rhonda Apple and we have continued to work together as a duo as well as in trios and quartets on occasion. I look forward to the future in music, particularly as Rhonda and I continue to work together, evolving and producing new sound creations.

Dale Britt