Archive | April, 2012

30,080 hits…

6 Apr

I have two videos on YouTube that were shot by Alexis Grenier (alexisgrenier.com) in June of 2010 at a local church auditorium here in Escondido. At the time, I had seven piano students who were taking jazz lessons. These two exercises are the primary tools one needs to help them become a professional jazz or popular piano player, if that’s the goal. The reason I did the videos was to give the students a demo of what they should sound like. I had no idea that so many people around the world would take an interest in this presentation.

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My basic 2-5-1 exercise - the most important one I have

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I learned these two exercises as a 14-year-old student from mid-1954 until mid-1955. By June of 1955 I got my first paid job as a piano player… made five bucks for a two-hour gig.  I had studied “classical” piano with Nancy Kendall Robinson at her home studio near our home in Pacific Palisades, California. I began lessons at the age of eleven and by fourteen, I was anxious to move on to a more contemporary style. So, my dad checked around and found a teacher in Hollywood with an excellent reputation for teaching a jazz style system that would enable the student to turn pro very quickly. I started playing professionally at 15 and continued until October of 1964 (age 24). I worked in LA, Phoenix and Augsburg, Germany. I recorded two albums (1961 and 1963).

So, it was a great run — enjoyed the heck out of it.  But, after nine years, I was all done — it got to be boring. Same thing night after night.

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My 7-9-11-13 exercise - leads to a "block chord" sound

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I was back from Europe (actually left from Dublin) in November of ’64 and then went to work in the sign business with my dad.  I had worked in his shop during summer vacations since 1954, so I knew the ropes and just got back to it.  He taught me how to “letter” — how to paint signs and I did that for several years. Then I switched to screen printing in the late 60s.  In 1971, I formed my own shop, Bresnik Studio, and did screen printing and signs for 38 years — sold the business in 2009 (it was called onlinesigns.com by that time).

Anyway — this 30,000 hit thing is going to open doors for a new business for me.  I’m in the process of creating pdf’s of these two exercises that I will sell off a new “bresnikstudio.com” site. Then I’ll do more pdf’s of other exercises and “licks” in my repertoire.  Plus, I’ll break down my two albums (about fifteen tracks) into mp3’s and sell those on the site.  I did my best jazz playing on the first album — recorded at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood. I was 21 at the time.

Then two years later I added a tenor sax to a different group I was working with, and did an album in Munich, Germany. My playing wasn’t as good by then, but I was working with a great tenor player and wanted to get him recorded.

So, that’s the latest plan for the music business.

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So, on to photos — love photos…  Here’s a photo of  “Grandy” — my mom’s father. He was born and raise in Winnipeg, Canada.  He was a brilliant hockey player.  In the early days you couldn’t make any money in hockey, so he switched to figure skating and started working in ice shows in the mid-west. Then he got an offer from Sonja Henie to come to LA and work with her. He did comedy acts in her shows and, due to his brilliant skating skills he became her double in all the skating scenes in her movies. He was actually a better skater than she was — luckily for him, he was short and, from a distance, looked just like her (with the proper costume, etc.).  He did all her choreography, as well.  I remember seeing him in action at the Polar Palace in  LA.

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Bert Clark - my mother's father, and professional ice skater

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After his skating career with Henie, he became the manager of the Polar Palace in LA. He was there until it burned down in May of 1963. He then worked at another rink in Paramount, CA until he retired in his mid-sixties. Here’s a shot of the Polar Palace, where he skated with Henie and then later became the manager. I used to skate there every Friday night for many years — in my teens and early 20s (until I joined the Army in 1961).  Grandy taught me how to skate there – I still remember pushing a chair around… I was probably eight or nine years old at that time.

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The Polar Palace - the largest ice surface in LA until burning down in 1963

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Did I ever tell you about my wood-working hobby?  I’ve been working with wood since the 50s — my dad’s carpenter taught me how to use power tools — table saw, band saw and jig saw. Dad’s carpenter’s name was Charlie Anscombe. He did all the cut-out wood letters and built the signs. So, I learned how to make things out of wood and I have made dozens of utilitarian wood projects over the years. The most recent was a “Murphy” bed for our son John and his family — while he was living in San Diego. Here are some photos of that project:

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"Murphy" bed made for son John in January of 2009

The bed in the upright position

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That’s about it for now — until next time….

Have fun out there…

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brez

aka Johnny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 months on the job

4 Apr

Two months ago today I went to the Home Depot orientation here in Escondido (the East store). I think about fifteen people showed up for that initial meeting. The first thing the HR lady said to us (after the initial greeting and welcome) was “you were not hired for your skill set… you were hired for your customer service experience and your nice smiles”… so, there was my first hint that they didn’t hire me because of my sign-making skills… all 47 years worth.

Then, after further input, she told each of us where we would be working. Several were to be cashiers – two in the tool rental department, then Neil and I to the paint department, and I don’t remember the rest.  I thought to myself “paint” makes sense since I’ve been around paint since my teen years, although it has been mostly industrial paint.  There’s a big difference between industrial paint and consumer paint, as I would find out very soon.  Then, within a few days, one of the assistant managers asked me to make a sign for him.  That shouldn’t be too hard, I thought.  Until I started looking for sign-making “tools.”  Nope… no sign-making tools — just markers.  How about an easel?  Nope… no easel.  So, I gave it a try.  I knew what sign it was supposed to replace, so when I came in for work the following day, I knew where to look to see my first attempt.  Wasn’t there.  Not only was it not there, but the old sign had been replaced with a new one that looked worse than the old one.

My feelings were  hurt, but they’ve been hurt before. So, I just focused on the paint department and thought they may ask me again at some point, which they did (see March 23rd).  But, since then no mention of signs has been forthcoming.  So, I’m solidly in the paint department now (I hope) — no sign work for me, which is strange… can’t really figure that one out. I’ve been making signs full-time since 1965 — 47 years — and they don’t want my input or service.  Very strange.

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Anyhow… onward and onward… here’s my favorite photo for today:

Route 66 - somewhere in Arizona

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Here’s another one I’ve always liked…

A cafe in Santa Rosa, New Mexico on Route 66 - in the 50s

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That’s about it for now…  until later…

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brez

aka Johnny

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