Joe Ercole started playing piano at the age of 9. He studied at Peabody Conservatory of Baltimore on a scholarship. Once a month the faculty monitored Joe’s progress. He would have to play in the concert hall for the faculty behind closed doors. After a year, a handful of professors would offer to teach him for free and come to his house. To cut down on travel time his father elected to have them come to him. That went on for 4 years. Then Joe heard the Beatles and turned his interest toward that genre of music, despite his father’s disappointment. At the age of 13 he started a band and started to play rock and roll and Motown cover tunes.
At 16 he heard Jimmy Smith the jazz organist and his attention turned to jazz. He would listen with his head between 2 speakers for hours. He became very curious as to what he was listening to. A friend told him about Berklee College of Music. He inquired, and decided that this is where he wanted to go to college. While he made plans for the move he studied classical and contemporary music with Dr. Drucker of Julliard. After he had things in place and begging permission from his parents he moved at 20 years of age with his girlfriend Denise. They spent 2 years there and Joe and his new wife ran out of money and went on the road with an R&B show band called The New Censation. After touring Europe and the states they decided to move back to Boston and finish school. While attending Berklee, Joe studied with renowned jazz teacher Charlie Banacos on Saturdays for 3 years and studied Be-Bop and contemporary jazz. Joe absorbed it like a sponge. He spent 12 hours a day practicing and transcribing the greats such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett. He would painstakingly listen to vinyl records and transcribe note for note what was being played. That was quite a tall order by anyone’s standards.
Take Five With...
Read more articles