Take Five With Susan Perti-Dunn

AAJ Staff By

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Piano, vocals, and keyboard.

Teachers and/or influences?

All teachers have influenced me over the years. Some more than others, but all have touched me and allowed me to grow as a person. Influences: Diana Krall, Karen Carpenter, Bonnie Raitt, Shania Twain, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Tim Janis, The Secret Garden, '70s classic rock, Mozart, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, classic jazz, and some '80s.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I was little and was able to play on my portable organ my brother's The Beatles and Styx songs I heard through his bedroom wall without a lesson. I was a child prodigy I would later learn....

Your sound and approach to music:

Elegant, classic, not too intrusive as a pianist, ambient. Lovely vocals ranging from Alto 1 to Mezzo Soprano. Not too avant-garde or abstract. More ethereal, standard sounding, classic, recognizable, original, interesting, and moving.

Your teaching approach:

100% encouraging the natural gifts and allowing students to break down insecurities and fears that hinder them from freely expressing themselves as emerging artists. To develop a true love of music non- competitively always striving for further purpose and meaning. I love it when a shyer student volunteers to do a solo in front of the entire class. That's amazing! That says to me I've given that child the tools they need to feel confident enough to be able to share their love of music with others, no matter what the cost.

Your dream band:

It already exists. The Pat Metheny Group. A fantastic combination of amazing guitar, beautiful crazy piano, stand-up bass, talented drums, and interesting ethnic additions including some singing.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

Once I was setting up for a wedding rehearsal dinner and just getting the piano in the proper place in the small room. Ten top round tables were tastefully decorated with champagne bottles, crystal glasses, fine china, candles, and elegant floral arrangements on each table. The guests began filtering in and I went to help move one of the round tops with the maitre 'd. It was just a flimsy piece of particle board holding up the decorum, and it crashed to the ground sending fine china, crystal glasses, water from the flower vase, and champagne shattering all over the floor. I hadn't even started yet. Everyone scrambled before the guests entered and fixed the table within minutes and I did play for 3 hours after that and got a sizable tip. It was so embarrassing though as you could only imagine! Since then? I Don't assist with moving anything but my own equipment!

Favorite venue:

One of my favorite gigs was at a recurring yearly Christmas party at a prominent lawyers home in a ritzy section of Delaware. They were the most down to earth people and had a gorgeous home and welcomed me into it to play for about 4 hours each holiday, two weeks leading up to Christmas. We would have fun sing a longs and they made big lyric books with "Joy to the World" (Three Dog Night), "Bad Leroy Brown," "It's My Party," "Piano Man," and a ton more. We would sing late into the night with a ton of people enjoying themselves. Some in sequined evening gowns, but always, very gracious hosts and treated me like part of the family.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

one of my favorites dates back a long time to my early years in college. It's called Why Can't it Be You and its an innocent look at recalling those few loves that didn't turn out to be forever. I also enjoy my "Wildwood" song since I enjoy spending time there, and I like my "Professor" song, as it hits home to me, an educator. I also like my entire Cinderella CD.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Pat Metheny As Falls Witchita, So Falls Witchita Falls. I heard it first on a cool April evening at my uncle's in Italy. I was hooked. It really is brilliant, but then again, almost anything Pat does is.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

To enrich the lives of children and allow them to be themselves and to not be afraid of music or their abilities.

To enhance the quality of life for our senior population. They are all walking story books and we all have music in common. It bonds us and unites each other.

Did you know...

I was a musical prodigy.

I have written hundreds of children's one-acts scenes and my students perform them each year. Its rewarding to watch your work come to life.

Desert Island picks:

Tim Janis, An American composer

Secret Garden (maybe one of their later releases. I can't decide)

Pat Metheny Secret Story

Lyle Mays Fictionary

Can't decide which classic rock album to pick so I will say the best of the '70s and '80s. That covers about 100 songs for me!

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

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