His music is easy listening, his music is jazz, the CD is “Late Game” and his name is Bobby Schiff.
Referred to by many as Chicago’s premiere jazz pianist, the Riverside resident has been in the music business for over three decades. His talent has put him in the company of recording greats such as Mel Torme and Peggy Lee as well as sitting in recording sessions with Marvin Hamlisch and Jerry Goldsmith. Now the recording is strictly Bobby Schiff.
Schiff’s first CD “Late Game” was featured at a release party at Sullivan’s on Dearborn Street in Chicago on March 30. While other artists help make the music on the CD, it is Schiff on piano who shines with his arrangements and original compositions. Four of the selections featuring strings were arranged and conducted by Schiff.
It was easy listening for me as I heard “Skating in Central Park,” and I could sing along with “I’m Old Fashioned.”
Originally from Rogers Park, Schiff began playing the piano at the age of 2, beginning formal training at the age of 5. Somewhat of a prodigy, he says, “I don’t know where it came from,” since neither of his parents were musically inclined.
His mother was a special education teacher and his father was an athletic director from whom Schiff developed a love of sports. Football was his game, much to the worry of his mother, who was concerned about his hands. He went on to college at Navy Pier when the University of Illinois established its first Chicago campus there, and continued at Chicago Musical College following his path to a career in music.
The diversity of his musical career can be seen in some of the avenues he has taken musically. He spent some time doing jingles in Chicago?”Heritage Bank and McDonald’s just to name a couple, before going west to try his luck at film writing. His attempt was stalled by a union strike, so he began his return trip to the Chicago area with a stay in Las Vegas, where he and his music were kept busy.
Feeling the most comfortable in the Midwest, he came back to Chicago and moved to Riverside, where he does most of his writing and arranging. But on Thursday nights, the Bobby Schiff Trio can be seen and heard at Sullivan’s, a 1940s-style steakhouse located at 415 N. Dearborn St. in Chicago. On weekends, the Bobby Schiff Band is busy doing weddings and corporate functions.
The other side of Bobby Schiff still enjoys sports, but it is more watching sporting events, playing racquetball, going horseback riding and watching movies.
Schiff says the release of his CD and the release party “went wonderfully.” The CD received a favorable write up in the Chicago Sun-Times, although Schiff had yet to see the article when we talked.
I admit I’m not a big fan of jazz, at least I wasn’t until I heard the music of Bobby Schiff. Hopefully, his first CD, “Late Game” will not be his last, as I look forward to more of his music. If you are interested in getting a copy or more info on Bobby Schiff you know how you can contact me and I will get you in contact with Riverside’s resident jazz musician. His music is worth hearing.