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Billy Dennison Froehner Releases Seven New Albums!


By harrisjensen - Posted on 12 October 2009

 

Who is Billy Dennison Froehner?

A Composer  Of Piano Jazz Who Has Played Jazz Since Before Elvis Did Rock And Roll!

See the whole interview with Billy and 5 albums of his music at
http://gooddayjournal.com/freestuff
(Albums 1-7)
By Harris Jensen, MD
To talk with this gentleman, you’d think he was your grandpa. Soft spoken, walking gently, a kindly look in his eye, always something kind to say. Little children love to sit in his lap as he plays games with them.
When Billy sits down at the piano, now Billy is really in his game. 
Jazz…
Jazz has been his profession and life’s passion since 17,  or for 66 years for this fellow who is, as he says it, “83 years young.”
Jazz…
“I loved jazz when I first started hearing it. I mean I first studied classical music but my Dad showed me some rag time jazz, that was in the Thirties, and I liked it, you know, and I’ve loved it ever since!”
At 17 he graduated from high school in a blue collar district of New Jersey and for Billy, it was time to help with the family finances. 
“My Mom said you’ve got one month to get a job in music or else you’re sacking groceries at the A and P!” Billy recalls.
He drove to New York, walked down those impersonal busy streets, got an agent, and several weeks later was playing for a big band. This was swing jazz, a big band sound, and he was their pianist.
It was living life from one gig to the next, one band to the next, bouncing from town to town, sleeping in hotels, the life of a performer. A life of constant change, meeting new people, and playing in time with some of the greats.
“I’ve played for Sinatra and Tony Bennett,” he relates, “and for a long time I was the pianist for Tommy Dorsey when he was the number one band in the country. When World War II came, I joined the Navy and they put me in a band. When we won over Japan, I was playing piano in the VJ Day parade in San Francisco. Playing jazz. Then I went back to New York, you know, playing gigs. In one hotel lobby I looked up from my keys and there was Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio. She really, what do you say, turned some heads!”
Billy played and directed as a jazz pianist for about 40 years, performing in almost every state in the USA, as well as on cruise ships circling the globe, as he says, “both ways, once by the longitude and another by the latitude!”
With the death of two close friends and fellow musicians, Billy turned to creating some of this music he’d been playing for decades.
“I wanted to give something back,” Billy remembers, “so I wrote ‘Ballad For Bart.’ His wife liked it. And I haven’t stopped since.”
Out of pain came the passion to make something beautiful, touching, to express something of the glory in this world, and say something about the meaning of the pain.
After a performance at St. John The Evangelist in Fort Collins, CO, he confided, “I love the harmony and order of the world, of life. God is so good to us. We may go through hard times, you know, but He brings us through somehow. I try to show something about the beautiful things in this world and that if there is pain, there is also grace and forgiveness, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
So Billy’s music is about beauty, harmony, and that no matter how hard the pain is, there is also enough of God’s grace to get through.
Billy has seen his share of hard times, too. Financially, it is hard living from gig to gig and supporting a family, but he did so and raised two sons with his wife in Detroit, Michigan. 
 
Then there was the time he was composing a song on a cruise ship, where he was performing, and The Falkland War broke out. And the cruise ship was docked at the British military base…at The Falklands…because of a severe storm. They pulled out as quick as the storm let up, and meanwhile British jets were bombing the Falklands!
We’ll write more about his music later…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Billy Dennison Photos above by Harris Jensen, MD.)
HJ