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Adams County Pianist Recalls Friendships with Jazz Legends - abc27 WHTM

Adams County Pianist Recalls Friendships with Jazz Legends

Adams County Pianist Recalls Friendships with Jazz Legends

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    Monday, July 21 2014 9:20 AM EDT2014-07-21 13:20:20 GMT
    At Farmer's Pride Airport in Fredericksburg, it was a summer school like none other. Nine days of learning about and flying glider planes. A unique chance for 16 Civil Air Patrol cadets to expand their abilities in aeronautics and in life.James Linker, Director, Civil Air Patrol Northeast Region,said the participants learn critical thinking skills that carry over into any walk of life."Primarily, it's an aviation exercise," said Linker, "but it's a great skill-building exercise too."Before, d...More >>
    At Farmer's Pride Airport in Fredericksburg, it was a summer school like none other. Nine days of learning about and flying glider planes. A unique chance for 16 Civil Air Patrol cadets to expand their abilities in aeronautics and in life.James Linker, Director, Civil Air Patrol Northeast Region,said the participants learn critical thinking skills that carry over into any walk of life."Primarily, it's an aviation exercise," said Linker, "but it's a great skill-building exercise too."Before, d...More >>
  • Autoharp Gathering in Perry County Draws Worldwide Participants

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    For five days at the end of June, it was all things Autoharp at Little Buffalo State Park near Newport."We have people from Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Canada and from almost every state," said Neal Walters, Director of the 24th Annual Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering.Throughout the festival, workshops focused on playing techniques geared for all talent levels for the multi-stringed instrument from the zither family. There was even a seminar on how to play in front of an audience.Worksho...More >>
    For five days at the end of June, it was all things Autoharp at Little Buffalo State Park near Newport."We have people from Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Canada and from almost every state," said Neal Walters, Director of the 24th Annual Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering.Throughout the festival, workshops focused on playing techniques geared for all talent levels for the multi-stringed instrument from the zither family. There was even a seminar on how to play in front of an audience.Worksho...More >>
For Littlestown pianist Herb Sell, sitting at a piano is his comfort zone.

"Sometimes I get up in the morning and realize I've been playing for two hours and realize half the day is gone," said Sell.

And, at 85 years old, the master pianist has mastered the playing styles of many of the greats.

"I like to play different styles and that's what I do," he said, effortlessly transitioning from boogie-woogie to swing music.

His love of jazz piano and the blues began as a boy, then blossomed as a pianist for the Army and Air Force Special Services Department during the Korean War. It was a passion he later shared with younger generations as choral director at Westminster high school in Maryland and as director of the Carroll County Choral Society.

Sell was well known for bringing the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Maynard Furgeson and Jester Hairston to perform at his high school. He saw it as a chance for his students to hear and work with some of the best players and singers in the world. It was an opportunity he never got to experience at that age. He still speaks fondly of many of the guest artists, some of whom became life-long friends with Sell.

"That's Duke Ellington," said Sell, pointing to a picture of Ellington standing with the Westminster High School Choir. "He had just finished directing a beautiful version of solitude that I had arranged for the concert."

Sell also credits the piano for meeting his late wife, Eleanor. Their nearly 55 year union began when she sat next to him on his piano bench during a playing job.

He still plays special occasions concerts and, for the last sixty years, has been the organist and choir director at his church.

But, when watching him play, one gets the impression that where Sell plays doesn't really matter, just when.
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