2.1 C
New York
Thursday, February 22, 2024

Meet Johnny Costa, the Pianist Who Launched Tens of millions of Mister Rogers Followers to Jazz

Jazz pianist and com­pos­er Charles Cor­nell is just not alone in his con­tempt for the kind of dumb­ed down musi­cal fare typ­i­cal of kids’s professional­gram­ming.

The late John­ny Cos­ta, Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hoods long-time musi­cal direc­tor and a self-described “actual jazzer,” was of like thoughts:

Chil­dren have ears, they usually’re peo­ple, and they’ll hear good music in addition to any­physique else. So I begin­ed proper from the start­ning play­ing for them as I might for any adults.

The present not solely hooked many younger view­ers on jazz, it could have plant­ed a sub­lim­i­nal pref­er­ence for reside jazz.

Not one of the present’s music was pre­re­twine­ed.

As a substitute, Cos­ta attend­ed each faucet­ing, professional­vid­ing reside accom­pa­ni­ment simply off cam­period with per­cus­sion­ist Bob­by Uncooked­sthorne and bassist Carl McVick­er. They have been such an inte­gral a part of the present’s vibe that in 1985, Mr. Rogers broke the fourth wall to present his “tele­vi­sion neigh­bors” their arrange.

As Cor­nell notes, above, host Fred Rogers, an accom­plished pianist him­self, wrote this system’s sig­na­ture tunes, includ­ing its well-known open­ing theme, however left it to Cos­ta to impro­vise as he noticed match.

Because of this the open­ing num­ber varies a bit from episode to episode, with hints of Oscar Peter­son, Artwork Tatum, Thelo­nius Monk and oth­er jazz world greats.

Cor­nell con­sid­ers Cos­ta their “crim­i­nal­ly unno­ticed” equal, however observes that his quar­ter cen­tu­ry of contain­ment on Mis­ter Rogers Neigh­bor­hood means his music has like­ly reached a far larg­er audi­ence.

Cos­ta had carte blanche to noo­dle as he noticed match below the onscreen professional­ceed­ings, includ­ing the various dis­cus­sions of really feel­ings. This musi­cal below­scor­ing helped Rogers demon­strate the wide selection of human emo­tions he sought to acknowl­edge and nor­mal­ize with­out con­de­scend­ing to his preschool audi­ence.

The present’s net­web site prais­es Cos­ta for simul­ta­ne­ous­ly know­ing “when to cease play­ing and let the silence take over, as there have been occasions when Fred Rogers didn’t need any­factor, even music, to dis­tract the chil­dren from con­cen­trat­ing on what he was say­ing or present­ing.”

As Cos­ta revealed:

I watch Fred, and there have to be some sort of telepa­thy that we’re not conscious of, as a result of some­how I get the mes­sage to play or to not play.  I’m positive that a few of it has to do with work­ing togeth­er all these years, however a variety of it’s unex­plain­in a position.

The present afford­ed him the oppor­tu­ni­ty to play with famend neigh­bor­hood vis­i­tors like trum­peter Wyn­ton Marsalis and croon­er Tony Ben­nett, in addition to the Land of Make Consider’s pup­pets inhab­i­tants.

Which isn’t to say he nev­er ven­tured out­facet of the neigh­bor­hood. Behold Cos­ta and “Helpful­man” Joe Negri per­kind­ing on 67 Melody Lane, a present geared towards grownup view­ers.

Stream extra of John­ny Costa’s music for Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood beneath.

by way of Chuckle­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Mis­ter Rogers Makes a Checklist of His 10 Favourite Books

Mr. Rogers’ 9 Guidelines for Converse­ing to Chil­dren (1977)

The Col­ors of Mis­ter Rogers’ Hand-Knit Sweaters from 1979 to 2001: A Visu­al Graph Cre­at­ed with Knowledge Sci­ence

By way of Chuckle­ing Squid

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and writer, most up-to-date­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Well-known: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Well-known Activ­i­ty Ebook. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles