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Sunday, August 18th, 2013



Musician shares stories at album signing

TUNED UP: Pianist Stan Wiest, of Fort Salonga, discusses his new album, Music to Drive By, during a signing at the Book Revue in Huntington Village Thursday, August 8.



Fort Salonga pianist Stan Wiest spoke about and signed his new critically-acclaimed piano album, Music to Drive By, for dozens of fans at the Book Revue in Huntington Thursday, August 8.

The 17-song elegant piano album titled Music to Drive By, Mr. Wiest’s first-ever commercially produced piano album, was released in June and is available on its website for $18.95. The album is also available for purchase on, and iTunes. Music to Drive By is marketed as the first volume of a series titled Music You Will Love, with the next album in the series expected to follow in the future. Mr. Wiest is president of A. Stan Wiest Music based out of his Fort Salonga home, which provides music and entertainment at parties, weddings and events on Long Island and the tri-state area with his personal orchestra called the Stan Wiest Orchestra. 

At Thursday’s Book Revue presentation and signing, Mr. Wiest related the story of how the album was created, after a man belonging to an exclusive north shore country club where Mr. Wiest has performed over many years asked if he would perform 24 of his wife’s favorite songs from the Great American Songbook, composed primarily in the 1920s and ‘30s, at a surprise birthday party for her. Following that surprise birthday performance, the client was so impressed that he offered to pay for Mr. Wiest to record an album of his wife’s favorite songs.

Fully funded by the client, who has wished to remain anonymous, Mr. Wiest spent eight straight hours performing the 17-song elegant piano album at the prestigious Euphoria Studios in Manhattan. He chose a method of recording which results in a greater quality but is far more labor-intensive, since it involved playing the songs straight through with no opportunity of fixing mistakes with overdubbing, including playing one song ten times. The result, he said, is an album that sounds as if the piano is in the same room or car as the listener.

The songs were originally written for full orchestra, but Mr. Wiest prepared and arranged them to be recorded as piano versions. In March, 2012, Mr. Wiest’s anonymous client contacted him about selling the album commercially, and he assured Mr. Wiest once again that he would pay for all the necessary expenses.

Despite eight straight hours of recording with very minimal breaks, Mr. Wiest said he loved the opportunity. “It was great. I had a lot of fun doing it and I hope those of you who purchased the album enjoy it,” he said. The hardest song to record was the last one on the album near the end of the eight-hour recording session. When Mr. Wiest just couldn’t seem to get it right, the audio engineer told him to stop trying so hard and just have fun with it. “That was the magic word and it worked,” he recalled.

Mr. Wiest then played snippets of songs on the album through speakers and showed the audience a one and a half minute long promotional video filmed at his Fort Salonga home, featuring video clips and a grand piano that once belonged to famed 1930’s and ‘40’s pianist Eddy Duchin. “It has the most phenomenal sound in the world, it’s just a great instrument,” he said.

Mr. Wiest drew many laughs when he then recounted the story of how he came to own Eddy Duchin’s grand piano as a young man with very little money in his pocket. When he heard the piano was going to be auctioned off by the owners of a wealthy Great Neck estate, he showed up at the Great Neck home unannounced and rang the doorbell to ask if he could have five minutes to play it. The family, which he wishes to remain anonymous, not only granted his wish but became captivated as they listened to Mr. Wiest play classical and jazz music on Eddy Duchin’s original 1910 Steinway A grand piano. Since they never asked Mr. Wiest to stop, he kept on playing—from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Afterward, he thanked the family and told them it had been the greatest day of his life. When the family asked him how much he had available to pay for the piano, Mr. Wiest told them the most he could raise on short notice was $450. The homeowner said if he could show up tomorrow with the money and a moving van he could keep it, and decades later, Mr. Wiest still owns the piano, worth over $100,000, using it to promote his first-ever commercially produced solo piano album. The piano isn’t going anywhere, he said. “Every musician who comes to this house says, ‘If you ever want to sell it—,’ and I say, ‘Stop, the conversation is done,’” he said.

As it turned out, Eddy Duchin’s son Peter Duchin ended up giving a great review for Mr. Wiest’s new  piano album, then discovering that Mr. Wiest is the owner of his father’s original piano. Now, Mr. Duchin is planning to meet with Mr. Wiest at his house to see the piano.

Mr. Wiest had the audience laughing all over again as he told more stories about his days trying to make a name for himself as a young musician performing in every piano bar and club imaginable around New York City, even the sketchy ones he wishes he avoided. “There were places I used to play at where I never got paid because I’d leave and I never came back,” he laughed. At one such venue, he recalled, the owner’s pet dog had a habit of chewing the piano legs when he didn’t like a musician, while one night he showed up at the famous Blue Piano venue in Jersey City during the middle of riots spurred by the Black Panther organization.

Audience members also got a kick out of Mr. Wiest’s story of proposing to his supportive wife Diane, who attended Thursday’s Book Revue event, decades ago on the Long Island Sound while boating out of Northport Harbor during their first date.

Mr. Wiest said he has intended to create a quality piano album that is unique and unlike many other piano CDs. As a pianist, he listed his major classical and jazz influences as Eddy Duchin, Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Carmen Cavallaro and Vladimir Horowitz. Mr. Wiest said he sold more than 80 albums at Thursday’s Book Revue event, which the anonymous backer attended as well as some of his former piano students he hadn’t seen in many years.

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