Every night around Tampa Bay, seasoned piano men hold court in a variety of piano bars. Sure, there are plenty of old favorites: Frank Sinatra standards, Billy Joel and Elton John, The Music of the Night. A piano man has to please his audience, after all. But we were impressed at how nimble these guys are at the keyboard, and how much music they know. Allon Sams will break into some funk by Average White Band. Carl Fuerstman does a smoldering Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Tony Castellano is great with cool jazz. Vladimir Moldovan knows all the music from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Kelly Goodrich gets the crowd to sing along on Sweet Caroline. We chatted with several piano men off-duty to get a little insight into what life's like behind the keys.
Musical & Theatrical Education
Tony Castellano (Timpano) was born to be a piano player. His father, pianist Tony Castellano Sr., had a trio in Miami; his mother was a singer. Tony Jr. started playing piano at 7; now he's 48. For the past 1 1/2 years, he and tenor saxophonist Franco Marino (who used to play with Castellano's father) have been playing at Timpano restaurant in Hyde Park.
A painting of Frank Sinatra hangs over the piano at Timpano, and you don't have to hang around long before hearing Castellano and Marino swing into Summer Wind or Nice 'n Easy or some other standard by the chairman of the board., Castellano is an old-school lounge pianist, with repertoire heavy on the songs of Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Mel Torme, but he can rock out, too, playing hits of Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker and Otis Redding. He once had a conversation with Billy Joel and remembers telling the piano man, "Billy, you've paid my rent the last 20 years.
Castellano also leads various jazz combos. His quartet plays tonight at 7:30 in the Side Door jazz series at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. Your style: "My style would be catering to the room. I have a variety of music: rock 'n' roll, reggae, jazz. It depends on the age group. We run the Sinatra gamut.''