Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Wheel Comes Full Circle

Eight or nine autumns ago, I met Rick Birman for the first time. We were playing a rather large open air gig at the Ziv Towers in Ramat Hahayal. Rick Birman came up to me at intermission and introduced himself, saying that he was enjoying our music. Rick was a well known pianist here in Tel Aviv, and knowing that he was in the crowd made me very nervous during our second set!
This was the beginning of a great friendship that was cut short by Rick's untimely death on Dec. 25th, 2003. That evening Rick phoned and invited me to attend a gig with some really good musicians, telling me that he would be sitting in with them. But I was on my way to Haifa with my own quartet, heading to a gig organized by Baruch Weisman. We talked briefly about bossanova rhythms and agreed to meet the next afternoon (Friday) at one p.m.
That night Rick got up to play piano at the gig in Tel Aviv, and according to those in the audience, played like he hadn't played for years (turns out he had also invited a lot of his friends that evening). In the middle of one of the tunes, his frail body gave way and it was impossible to resuscitate him.
Six years have passed and for those of us who called this remarkable, somewhat eccentric man our friend, time has stood still. Although I only knew him during his last years, we forged a great friendship. He introduced me to many female vocalists (he had a thing for lady singers), including the 14 year-old Marina Blumin who went on to fame.
He was as a kindred spirit.
On Jan. 10th, we will have our annual memorial jazz evening, featuring many of the singers and musicians he accompanied during his final years. This year, the event is at Mike's Place, a warm cozy bar . The wheel has come full circle. The bar is situated right at the Ziv Towers, where I met Rick for the very first time that autumn evening.

Also, you can view my older blog post about Rick Birman


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