Ellsworth Gibson has been playing piano professionally around the Washington area for better than 25 years. He cites pianists Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner and Oscar Peterson as personal favorites and might wind up an evening with an interpretation of Thelonious Monk's " 'Round Midnight." Recalling some of his many associations over the years, he talked of accompanying vocalist Irene Reid at Ed Murphy's Supper Club, heading the house trio at the Caverns where Johnny Griffin and Sonny Stitt "would take 99,000 choruses," playing in the big bands of Lionel Hampton and Illinois Jacquet and working at "about every club in town." He'll be playing solo piano Tuesday through Saturday at Pistones, Seven Corners, Va.
Gibson has the nocturnal habits of the prototypical jazz musician, a life style that dates to his years at Armstrong High School.
"I use to stay up at night and practice. I'd get up in the middle of the night and come downstairs and put a blanket over the piano and close the French doors. My father would catch me sometimes but if he didn't mother would come down in the morning and say, 'You still up?' I just had enough time to cram in the studies while she was fixing breakfast. Even now when I get off at night I will try to find someplace to play or a jam session or something. I'm one of those persons if nothing happens and I don't feel sleepy, I'll just ride around in the car for a while."