Audiophile interview: David Chesky: A Portrait of the Artist as His Own Man

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David Lander (Stereophile magazine) writes:  David Chesky, whose company has been making superior recordings for nearly 20 years now, isn't from the engineering side of the business. He's talent—a pianist who sometimes performs on his label, a composer of classical and jazz selections integral to its catalog, and an arranger as well.

Chesky was born in October 1956, grew up in Miami, and began studying piano at age five because his mother, an eighth-grade teacher, decreed that "everybody in the house is going to take piano lessons, so when you become a doctor you can play as an avocation." She also felt that the pursuit would help her children develop discipline and good study habits. The formula pretty much worked for her oldest son, Jeffrey, who became a physiologist, but David cast a cold eye on college and, at 17, ventured north to New York City. Their younger brother, Norman, with whom David founded Chesky Records in 1986, followed two years later.

Before long, David was playing jazz professionally and leading a big band. After being introduced to the record executive Bruce Lundvall, he signed with Columbia and recorded one album for the label. For about a decade or more, he did studio work, composing music for commercials and TV movies, which he sometimes arranged for orchestras that he'd then conduct for the recording sessions. For many years, "television was a living" for David as well as for his brother Norman, who was both his partner and his sales representative in that venture. "We were lucky we had it," David says, "because without it there would be no Chesky Records."

David Lander: You once told me that, when you were a youngster, you thought Latino music was the music of America.

David Chesky: It was the music of Miami, and it was the music I was exposed to. There was the cha-cha rage, it was the bossa nova age. My mother was really into bossa nova—Jobim—and she got me into jazz. She took me to my first jazz concert, the Buddy Rich Big Band.

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