With Brian Gurl, you spell Entertainer with an E. Capitol, bold, and larger than life! He is the complete package: a singer with a pleasant baritone who accompanies himself with brilliant piano-playing. The piano came first. He was one of those rare, precocious talents who started piano lessons at age 6 in a small town in New Hampshire, and quickly surpassed his teacher. He studied classical technique at first, then added jazz, and now can play anything. (A lot of the best performers of “popular music” today followed that same path...classical piano training, which builds a solid foundation, then branching into various styles of jazz, rock, country, or what-have-you.)
Well, last Friday, December 6, performing for the Sarasota Music Club in Sunnyside Village, the ‘what-have-you’ centered on jazz stylings on Christmas songs, with one Hanukkah song thrown in for good measure. Gurl plays piano the way Rafael Nadal plays tennis, ferociously, all over the court (keyboard), with savage skill. I tried to count his fingers, but they moved too fast...he must have had at least seven or eight on each hand, and they were in constant motion. Runs, arpeggios, rapid block chords...he did it all, at lightning speed. It got to where I wanted him to do a quiet, thoughtful take on at least one song, so my pulse rate could slow down. He had my pacemaker on Overdrive.
Gurl did “Jingle Bells” in several styles in a row: I think I heard some Fats Waller, some Honky-Tonk, some Rachmaninov, some Chopin, some John Philip Sousa, and some Errol Garner. And, of course, a lot of Brian Gurl. He slipped in a little interesting background info while introducing several of the songs. For fun, he did a spot-on Elvis version on one, with gyrating hips and primordial grunts that had us all believing that Elvis Lives!
We could see how Brian Gurl made a long and successful career out of stage productions and international tours, with big bands as well as small ensembles. He gave us his all, as I suspect he does for every performance, and our audience ate it up. Yes, definitely an E.
In January, Sarasota Music Club will meet on Friday, January 10th. Mark the date on your calendar – we meet on the second Friday of each month for the rest of this season. Bring a friend – they will be glad you did.
[NOTE: The Suncoast Music Scholarship Luncheon will be held on Saturday, May 2.}