Dancing Buck Naked to Professor Piano

Here’s this lovely man who played the hell out of my piano one night while Darcy McFadyen and I danced buck naked.

It was 1991 (I think) and we were working on a concert series with my group ‘The Angels of Montenegro’. Luckily I had located a young and enthusiastic assistant, because I had to write 30 minutes of string music, 30 minutes of brass music, 30 minutes of woodwind music…all in a few weeks, get it rehearsed and get it on stage in this series of concerts culminating in a finale concert in which the whole shooting match would be on stage at the El Mocambo on a Friday night.

On top of all that, we did arrangements of each of the orchestral components to play with our regular repertoire. So each week, in fact, it was our repertoire with strings and a string set…next week our repertoire with horns and a new original set of horn music….

See what I mean? A lot of work. I needed a lot of help.

So dear Darcy sat with me all night, night after night and we wrote charts. I sang the parts and Darcy wrote them down. You really have to concentrate to keep all this straight in your head when you don’t know how to write it down. Sometimes at 4 AM Darcy started to flag so I would try to caffeinate him or somehow create engagement.

While working on woodwind pieces one night I needed to come up with two new ones sitting there and was cranking my brain case, priming the pump, looking high and low for a way in.

Darcy was young and enthusiastic and saw me as a mentor. Everything was an initiatic rite so we had fun with initiatic rites and played them up to an extreme bumptious degree.

So, impulsively—and now here after a bit of throat clearing I am getting to the point of the story—I said to Darcy, “Will you dance naked with me at the celebration party?”

Because, of course, after all that work and a grand finale concert, we had to have a party. And because it sounded like a profound emotional challenge for a weedy music major and surely an initiatic rite, Darcy responded enthusiastically and perked up and we sat up and pumped out some more charts.

Wow, engagement devices, methods to inspirit the troops. Wonder what Caesar did to get those guys to bridge the Rhine in ten days.

We got the charts together, presented all that new music. The finale was pretty special—a total blowout. Now it’s the next night I am preparing a turkey dinner for 50 people.

It’s early in the evening and Darcy has a concerned look on his face. He’s wondering if I have forgotten about the important initiatic rite.

He says, almost accusatorily, because in fact I totally forgot about this arrangement, his voice a bit shaky, afraid to be disappointed: “Are we going to dance naked?”

Yikes. I immediately realized that I would have to make good on this so I started dancing into the living room while flinging my clothing down to the ground. Darcy followed suit, well, you know what I mean.

So now we are naked dancing and people are showing up. And when there are two naked people at a party it kind of perks up the action for everyone else standing around.

And then Professor Piano showed up. About ten people stood around the piano as he boogie woogied.

And we danced. the end.

Professor Piano had a strange death in which he was wrongly identified and buried by another family.

There must be a lot of these stories floating around out there.


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