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  Perfect Pitch

Ron... dreaming of Bb? From as early as age 5, Ron has had the ability to return from a concert and to play from memory, the tunes he had just heard. For a long time, he thought anyone could do this.
Once, in a music class, he complained that the school master was playing the song in the wrong key when compared with the score Ron was reading. From then on, it became clear that Ron had that very special gift known as perfect, or absolute, pitch. No more than 1 in 10,000 people have this wonderful ability, and it cannot be acquired or learned. A few lucky people are just born with it. With his back to the piano, Ron is able to name all the notes and chords played just by hearing them.

A very well known jazz trumpeter, Gus Galbraith, was tuning up for a session at the Twickenham Jazz Club where both Ron and he were playing. Gus played a note on his trumpet and asked Ron what it was. "It's between Bb and B" replied Ron. Unconvinced, Gus compared the note with the piano and, of course, Ron was right.

This gift of Perfect pitch, is particularly valuable in the Jazz world where written scores are not usually available, Ron has made good use of it over the years. While playing with the John West Group, who were fond of playing in the style of George Shearing Quartet, Ron was able to score the songs by listening to records, and calling out the notes to band leader John West. John was then able to write down the tune notation. The John West Group built an impressive reputation playing these songs over the years.

Ron's album "A Tribute to George Shearing" is typical of the sound of the John West Group, and this album was Ron's tribute to Shearing for giving them such an excellent start in their musical performances. Sad to report, George Shearing died 14 February 2011, but his memory lives on at MusicMakers-World.

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Last updated: 25th March 2014