It's the explosion of a thundering swing band at the height of the neon-splashed 1940s. It's the elegant artistry of a sophisticated keyboard artist in the heyday of Swing Street. It's the ebullient good humor of a Dixieland band under the jumping baton of a fun-making master of ceremonies. It's a tinge of the blues that touches the melancholy of the heart. Above all, it's the love for life, the joy for jazz, the sweet sweep of swing that makes audiences snap their fingers, stamp their feet, and clap their hands for the pure delight of music.
It's the sound of pianist extraordinaire Roy Gerson.
When Roy was in his early teens, his father—an amateur jazz drummer—took him to the Westbury Music Fair, in his native Long Island. The concert that night was Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, and Ella Fitzgerald. It lasted from ten at night, through four encores, to two o'clock in the morning, and when it was over, Gerson knew something he hadn't known before: If there were ever a question of me doing anything else with my life—because then it was time to think about college maybe—that conversation with my parents was over. It was going to be music, all the way. Because of the Westbury Music Fair—Oscar, Ella, and Basie.
Roy 's love for the music began with his father, who formed a local jazz band which practiced every Monday in the basement of their home in Malverne, Long Island. Young Roy would sit on the steps and soak up all the jazz standards of Miller and Basie, the showtunes of Gershwin and Arlen, the arrangements of Jimmie Lunceford and Louis Jordan. Soon, Roy took up piano lessons, mastering the complex harmonies of Chopin and Liszt. By the time he was eleven, Gerson had formed his own big band; by the time he was in ninth grade, he was playing piano jazz professionally in local restaurants.