Jim Haskins divides his time between two different
worlds. By day he is a professional financial adviser.
By night he devotes himself to the piano recordings
in this series. He began his musical training in Memphis
in the 1940's. His teacher, Suzie Laverne DeShazo, herself
a pupil of the great French pianist, Alfred Cortot,
gave Jim the essential grounding in the classics. Later
on it was the influence of jazz pianists who knew how
to play the standards with a respect for classical traditions
that laid down the musical path he would follow. "I
always cared most about how a pianist sounded playing
solo rather than playing with a group which is a whole
different genre. It's only in the solo mode that the
pianist can change the flow of time and phrase to suit
a mood." Jim enjoys playing live and does so
in several of Honolulu's finest hotels and restaurants.
It was out of that experience that the idea of COCKTAIL
PIANO was born. "I felt that people wanted
in their homes the sound of the piano music they might
have heard in an elegant cocktail lounge or while dining
at a fine restaurant - music that is quiet and sophisticated;
music that serves as a background to the social experience
rather than competing with it for attention."
"That's the COCKTAIL PIANO sound."
Vienna, Home of Bosendorfer
People ask why I chose to record
on the Bosendorfer. First, you must understand how
very important the piano is to the player. I have
played on hundreds of pianos the world over and every
one is different. Most of them you pass by quickly
because they do nothing for you. You play them. You
hit all the notes, but the sound isn’t right. The
feel has to be right as well. When your fingers touch
the “right” piano it feels like silk. Playing becomes
almost effortless. You play like you never played
before. You never want it to change. But pianos do
change. The amount of moisture in the air makes a
great difference because pianos are made of wood,
and wood reacts directly to the environment. Too dry
and wood shrinks. Too humid and it expands. A good
example is a piece of furniture we had made for us
in Hawaii years ago. After moving to Philadelphia
where we had central heating the drier atmosphere
caused the joints to open up to an alarming degree.
After moving back to Hawaii three years later the
joints closed back up to their original position.
So Many from which
to choose. So important a choice.
I chose the Bosendorfer for two main reasons. When
I first played on one in Vienna, Austria where they
are built the touch was incredible. Second, I loved
the long sustain of the notes which produces a singing
quality. I was told at the factory that one of the
reasons for this is that the inside of the case is
lined with the same type of wood that the soundboard
is made of. Only technicians would know for sure,
but I know how it sounded, and it was just right for
my style of playing. My technician, Yoshi Nishimura,
says of the Bosendorfer sound that it has a “smiling”
quality. I think he’s right.
At last, the right
The main showroom on
Lastly, I must say that no piano is complete without
the regular servicing of a talented technician. I
have been most fortunate to have had Yoshi take care
of my piano since the day back in 1984 when it first
arrived. Yoshi grew up in Japan and went through very
rigorous training at the Yamaha factory. After moving
to Hawaii in 1970 he started his own piano servicing
business. Today he is one of the finest piano technicians
anywhere. He has even gone to Europe to work on the
pianos of Vladimir Ashkenazy, the great Russian pianist.
He makes my Bosendorfer sound like it was meant to
sound. And no recording session begins until after
he has carefully regulated the action, voiced the
hammers, and tuned the strings. He does the final
tuning at night because that’s when I like to record.
By nightfall a daytime tuning would not have sounded
Dr. Rolan Radler, Bosendorfer
CEO with Jim and the new Bosendorfer in Hawaii.
To me there is no musical experience finer than playing
and recording on this wonderful instrument.