Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shout from the mountaintops

After year’s hiatus, jazz pianist is back on track

Express Staff Writer

Ever the generous showman, jazz pianist Paul Tillotson returns to the public eye with performances in Boise that include an annual benefit concert for his namesake musical scholarship for Borah High School and to celebrate recovery from cancer at Sacred Heart Church. Courtesy photo

    No news was not good news for Paul Tillotson.
    This time last year, Tillotson had mysteriously dropped out of the weekly calendar at Sun Valley Resort, where he was a winter fixture at the Duchin Lounge for the past 14 years.
    The headline in a December 2011 story in the Idaho Mountain Express hailed, “Jazz pianist Paul Tillotson is here for the winter.” The story reviewed his colorful career as an artist around town and in New York, though the Boise-bred music man was more interested in talking about his role as father to Charlotte, then 18 months old, than his mentors and multi-album story.
    Murmurs finally surfaced in the community that so loved him that he was in treatment for cancer. The eternally young pianist remained quiet, fighting for his life.
    Earlier this week, Tillotson resurfaced, with two appearances in Boise, one to “Celebrate Recovery” at the Sacred Heart Church, and the other at the Paul Tillotson Music Scholarship Benefit Concert. This concert raises funds to support a graduating senior heading for college with a $1,000 boost.
    Not eager to stop the music long enough to chat about it, he issued an email statement that read in part, “Paul is returning to play publicly after taking the year off for health-related reasons. In December 2011, Paul was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. After a year of intense treatment, he is happy to report he is now cancer free!”
    Shifting into first person, he added, “I’m looking forward to playing music and having fun again. It’s been an incredibly enlightening journey.”
    Tillotson has played with famed musicians Gene Harris, Lynn Seaton, Vernel Fournier, Mike Merritt and more, and appeared on Letterman and Conan O’Brien’s nighttime talk shows. He’s performed in jazz festivals across the globe.
    In a previous interview he explained, “My mission is to play great improvised music, deeply touching the souls of audiences around the world, spreading the joy that is created while making music that comes from love.”
    Tillotson is due to perform après ski at the legendary Duchin Lounge for three upcoming weeks, Jan. 21-25, Feb. 18-22 and March 18-22, from 4:30-8:30 p.m. There is no cover.
    Now’s the time to make some noise. Start spreading the news.

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