The AC #7 mystery man is the late Phineas Newborn, Jr. (Ta Da!)
A big thank you to all the contest participants but since no one correctly identified my mystery man, I’m going to post the winning prize link in this post along with a couple of other links that showcase this musical giant. That way, if you’re not familiar with Phineas, you can check him out a little then seek more if you like what you hear and see.
Phineas Newborn, Jr., was a piano genius from Memphis, Tennessee. Although he was very well-known and appreciated among his peers, devoted followers, and loved by his friends, he was an artist who deserved much wider general public recognition.
For me, one of his many career highlights was an album he recorded with strings titled, “While My Lady Sleeps” where he sight-read the whole date in first-takes, and the orchestra gave him a standing ovation after every song!
During his live performances, Phineas would often play a couple of songs at the front of a set or during a set with his left hand only–melody, accompaniment, improv-solo and everything would sound as if he were playing with two hands!!!. Words can’t describe the feeling that his attentive audiences would experience when he’d finally bring out his right hand, during the middle of one his deep single-hand explorations, and add it to the high-fever level of excitement that he would have already generated with his left hand alone! He’d raise his right hand and then down it’d come exploding onto the piano and BANG! The audience would collectively gasp in pleasure! I’d often cry out, “WOW!!” It was an emotional experience that you actually felt and you really had to see and experience it live! He was truly an awesome musician!
He loved to play piano, he loved to laugh, and I’m proud of the friendship I had with him for the short time I knew him. R.I.P. Phineas.
Phineas (left) and Art at Boston’s Logan Airport –photo by Deb Claffey
Contest Winners Link (audio) – Phineas made this recording in 1951 with “Lou Sargent”, which was a pseudonym for Luther Steinberg. Phineas was twenty years old on this recording and at that early age, you can hear his mastery of blues and boogie-woogie piano styles!
If you like boogie-woogie, blues, and jazz piano, I recommend you to listen to as much Phineas Newborn as you can find.
To all the people who didn’t win this time (everybody!), these types of contests and “Silly Games” will occasionally appear in Art’s Corner so spread the word and stay tuned.