[ Frank Rothkamm Union Hall ]

I immigrated to San Francisco, California when I was 24 years old. 27 years later I am still here, having spent almost a quarter of a century between New York and Los Angeles.

For a day, I’m back in San Francisco, right back where I started from.

I see my old friend Alex Walsh for the first time in 25 years. This is very emotional, I hug him perhaps too many times. I introduce him to my wife, Nina. Both are pleased, but I’m sure they met before when Nina and I moved to New York 25 years ago. Both don’t remember. “You used to produce Techno way back then”, notes Alex. I protest: “Well, I was doing a lot of things including commercials, but yes,…”, and I don’t remember what kind of self-important things I said instead of telling him how touched I am to be here. He shows me a picture of his wife from his phone.

Upon Alex’s invitation we are at ‘Union Hall’ in San Francisco, home of the Musicians Union Local 6. As Alex Walsh himself writes in ‘A BRIEF HISTORY OF LOCAL 6’, on ‘“September 3, 1885, a group of professional musicians met to organize “a society for mutual protection and for the furthering of musical interests”. Local 6 was born.’ I love the 80s.

I am reminded of things in the past. I am in search of lost time. A multitude of spirits move through me as I am pacing up and down in front of the grand piano. I want to capture all of this that defies description. “So what are going to play?” Alex asked. “I never know what I’m going to play”. My reply was uneasy, as I prepared myself for a spirit to guide my hands. There just seems to be a lot of them, pushing my mind and hands in many directions.

Nina did a soundcheck for the microphone. She hit all the low bass notes as I watched the settings on the recorder. “So, do you play the piano, Nina?”, asked Alex. Nina tells him that she took piano lessons until she broke her leg, which ended her career as a pianist. I hit the record button and sit down in front of the Yamaha C3 ‘Conservatory’ grand piano.

I do not know how it will sound. I do not know what the action will be like. I do not know when or where I will start.

I wait a few seconds, lift my arms and all of a sudden a whole ‘Sonata’ unravels in front of my mind for a split second. Variations on the “I left my heart” melodic-rhythmic motif from the refrain of the classic song from the American songbook “I left my heart in San Francisco”. Again, I feel my like hands are being guided, all I have to do is make sure the chords are the same for both hands, my mind is just occupied with figuring out scales.

Later at night, Nina and I walk all the way up to Coit Tower and look down on the city where we met.


   
Catalog No: FLX113.475
Title: Union Hall
Sound Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Visual Artist: Nina Schneider
Holger Rothkamm
Label: Flux Records
Length: 23:00 (1380s)
Composed: 2017
Location: San Francisco
Instruments: Yamaha C3 grand piano
Release Date: 3/3/2017
Format: Digital
File Under: American Songbook Classical Jazz