The Pinch Hitter

Posted by on Mar 25, 2016 | No Comments

I have nothing but the highest of regard for the estimable talents of Dr. Jeffrey Hollander, the legendary pianist who reigns supreme over the musical gifts regularly given in the Pfister’s Lobby Lounge. As any of his fellow musicians might say, “That cat has some big chops.”

My fawning admiration for the Pfister’s king of the eighty-eight keys is great for sure, but I bow to my Narrator predecessors who have lauded and praised Dr. Hollander’s work in better words and phrases than I could even dream of weaving together. They’ve said it well, and anything I could add would only pale in comparison to their prose.

Instead, I would like to talk about what happens when Dr. Hollander decides he needs a night off. That’s when he looks to the bench and calls someone up to make sure the big leagues are expertly covered. I speak, of course, of the pinch hitter.

In talking about a piano pinch hitter, a little moonlight and music seems appropriate, right? I hope you’re listening to this on the Pfister Narrator podcast right now, because all of a sudden, you’re about to receive an ear massage.

There’s a distinct difference about the pinch hitter that stepped in for Dr. Hollander this past Wednesday. When you talk about this sub ivory tickler, don’t use the male pronoun. Switch it over to the she. Carolyn Wehner has recently joined the ranks of the substitute pianist list in the Pfister Lounge, a rogue’s gallery of the kind of swells you like to have around because they’re cool, charming, and talented as all get out. In doing so, Carolyn adds a bit of an X factor as well as an added chromosome to the time honored tradition of spanking good-time entertainment in our lobby lounge.

The night I was able to hear Carolyn, she was hitting all the cabaret classics. And her eye splits its time between the keys and the guests relaxing over a cocktail or evening bite. As a young lady came into the lounge, Carolyn shifted into some Disney tunes to herald her entracnce. In the middle of a set, she modulates between swinging smiley cabaret tunes and melancholy “pour-me-another-Joe” sort of sad sack ballads. She’s also got a bit of a vinegar wit, and she might sprinkle a ditty like the Mel Brooks’ classic “Springtime for Hitler” into a series of seasonal tunes with a devil-may-care effortless that ends up being a fun little Easter egg for anyone listening real hard.

But what does the pinch hitter think about the job she’s got to do? Modest as any second stringer might be, she’s a true team player.

“Why wouldn’t I love being here? It’s a beautiful room, and gorgeous instrument, and I get to back up a legend like Jeff Hollander. It’s heaven on earth.”

Dr. Hollander, you can rest easy. Carolyn and all your other pinch hitters are hitting it out of the park.

Follow me on Twitter @jonathantwest for more smart remarks and snappy retorts.

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