Q&A with pianist Jim Brickman

Jim Brickman

Two-time Grammy-nominated pianist Jim Brickman has added Grand Junction to his list of performance destinations.

Brickman, known for his collaborations with top artists such as Martina McBride, Carly Simon and Olivia Newton-John, plays at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at Avalon Theatre, 645 Main St.

Tickets to the show range in price from $27.50 to $65 when purchased in advance through TicketsWest.com. All tickets cost an additional $5 when purchased at the door.

Although Brickman has visited the area before, he hasn’t performed in Grand Junction until now.

Brickman is on tour to promote his 2011 album “Romanza,” which is a 15-track album of arrangements inspired by Italian romance.

In a phone interview, the Ohio native talked about his love of piano, performance and what people can expect from his Grand Junction show.

Melinda Mawdsley: Thanks so much for speaking with me. First things first. I read that you started piano at 5 years old. That’s pretty young.

Jim Brickman: I begged my parents for piano lessons. We didn’t have a piano. Whenever I’d see a piano, I was drawn to it. For me, it was the melody always going around in my head.

Mawdsley: Did you share a mutual love of performance?

Brickman: I didn’t have any designs early on to be a performer. I was always more of a songwriter. I never thought I’d be on stage. ... When I look back on it, I wouldn’t trade (being on stage) for anything. I feel like it’s the best thing I do.

Mawdsley: It has been nearly 18 years since you released your debut album “No Words.” Since that time, what efforts have you made to improve your playing?

Brickman: There’s a plateau to playing piano where it becomes so much a part of you that it’s like walking and talking. Instead, the way I get better or continue to evolve as an artist, which is an important thing, is in my song writing. I listen to a lot of pop music, the tone and trend of what people like and when and why. So I’m inspired to write with a number of different writers for different reasons and purposes. I had a couple songs I wrote recently that were very contemporary and sound very different from a power ballad I wrote in the 1990s. And that’s a good thing.

Mawdsley: One thing you are known for is collaborating with some big names in the industry. How do you choose guest vocalists for your albums?

Brickman: I always want the singer collaboration to have a reason. I feel like it’s important to be authentic instead of asking “Who can we get?” and just getting who’s available. It’s always people I either know or admire. When I worked with Carly Simon, for example, I was a really big fan, and I had always wanted to do something with her. In the case of “Valentine,” I knew Martina (McBride). I loved her voice. Sometimes, there are people you want that you can’t get.

Mawdsley: Do you like to go back and listen to your albums?

Brickman: I don’t. I hardly ever listen back. I don’t know why.

Mawdsley: Because you’ve never performed here, what can people expect from a Jim Brickman show in Grand Junction?

Brickman: I play everywhere, but I’ve never played there. It’s so amazing. It’s fantastic because you don’t know who might be there. For people who have never seen a show before, there is an expectation that it is just a recital. It’s not like that. To me, the show is such an important aspect to keep people coming back. I’ll sing like eight songs.

Mawdsley: You sing? I’m sorry. Maybe I’ve only listened to you play piano and ignored your voice on albums.

Brickman: I’ll sing quite a bit in the Grand Junction show. I don’t sing a ton on albums, but I sing. A lot of my audience wishes I sang more on albums, but I feel like certain songs I want to bring to life with other people, be it a female vocal, or a country voice. It keeps the writing relevant.


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