Pianist tickles ivories, audiences with his playing

Published 6:54 pm Friday, March 6, 2020

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Jason Lyle Black’s ability to play this way has earned him thetrade-marked moniker as “The Backwards Piano Man.” See for yourself this coming Friday.

Jason Lyle Black to entertain with music, humor


Jason Lyle Black is coming to perform for us — courtesy of the Franklin-Southampton Concert Association — on Friday, March 13.

Aren’t we lucky ducks?

You might ask, though, “Who is Jason Lyle Black, and how are we so fortunate?”

As we just learned from his co-manager, Scott Welch, the pianist’s skills need to be both heard and seen. Where feasible, a projector is used so that audiences can watch Black as his hands glide, stomp and coax music whether he’s seated upright on a bench or even upside down. That latter ability has reportedly earned him the trade-marked moniker as “The Backwards Piano Man.”

Welch explained via phone interview on Friday afternoon that Black had been referred to him by someone almost two years ago. After seeing the pianist perform, he said, “I was stunned by how good he was.”

What particularly impressed him, though, “His sense of humor more than anything,” adding that while many people can play the piano, not everyone can engage an audience and entertain, especially like Black who will also tell stories.

“He’s not afraid as a musician,” continued Welch. “For example, he’ll ask the audience to give him chords, an A minor or B flat, for example, and will create a musical piece. He’s not afraid to stray. He plays everything from Mozart to arrangements of Michael Jackson or the music from ‘Frozen.’ Black is very disarming. He’ll perform ‘Songs Not to Play at People’s Weddings and Funerals.’ Very disarming.”

The impression that Black made on Welch led to the management arrangement, which includes Vinny Ribas.

“Artists take time to develop,” said Welch, and told Black, “’You’re great, but a little raw. See if you can put the work in.’ So he was booked to play on cruises for six to seven months, having to play to a lot of people every night. That really helped him to develop as an artist all over the world. His following has grown so much.”

As an another example of personal growth, Black has composed his own music, and getting up to the No. 1 spot on iTunes’ New Age category, and No. 2 on the Billboard New Age Charts with his album “Piano Preludes.” That works has earned him critical acclaim such as “masterful … overflowing with grace, reverence, and heart.”

There has also been collaboration with Hal Leonard, the world’s largest music publisher, on numerous arrangements for piano, including his latest book, “Disney Medleys for Piano Solo.”

The pianist was not available for the last-minute interview, as he was getting ready for a show that night in Savannah, Georgia. The night before we get to see and hear him, he’ll be in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In his press release, though, Black sums up his motivation: “My mission as an artist is to put a smile on people’s faces. Since my very first days of composing and performing, music has been about connection with an audience. I love making people laugh and then touching their hearts through music.”

You can get his music and merchandise on his website, www.jasonlyleblack.com, in addition to iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Google Play, Amazon, and other national music retailers.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Southampton High School, 23350 Southampton Parkway, Courtland.

For non-subscribers, the price for an individual ticket is $30 per person and $10 for students.

Nancy Rowe, the concert association president, asked to remind people again that the date is Friday, March 13, and not the incorrect date originally put on magnets last year.

You may call her at 653-7914 if you need more information.