Eric Shirfin of San Bruno shares his love for music | Local News


A man wearing a white felt hat sits at the piano, his fingers relaxed, effortlessly touching each note as if the keys were an extension of himself. The driving beat and cloudy melodies collide and then separate again like a mad science that cannot be explained.

His smile is wide, as he finishes the piece he turns to the audience, “You came out of a dream,” Eric Shirfin says hoarsely during a recorded performance on YouTube, at Bird and Beckett in San Francisco. For those watching, the transformative sounds of his jazz piano are a trip down memory lane.

His hope is to share the music he loves with the community and hope they enjoy it too.

“I’m kind of a messenger,” said Shirfin, 65.

On Monday, September 19, the San Bruno resident will play some of his favorites at the San Francisco Botanical Garden for the Flower Piano event hosted by Sunset Piano.

Sunset Piano is a collaboration between two artists who promote piano culture. They bring pianos to public spaces such as the California coast, the streets of San Francisco and Golden Gate Park and invite the public to play their pianos, according to the Sunset Piano website.

He hopes to share his love of jazz with his audience.

“Every song I play, [for flower piano] at one point it was my favorite song, you know, something I was obsessed with,” Shirfin said.

In addition to his original pieces, Shirfin plans to play many classic jazz songs mixed together.

“Kind of like a medley,” Shirfin said.

The garden is a beautiful public place because you can see young and old playing, enjoying and enjoying the music, he added.

Shifrin learned the piano from her mother. From an early age, she taught him the basics and he began taking lessons from a woman in the neighborhood.

“She showed me boogie woogie,” Shifrin said.

After that, he got hooked. In high school he played all day, he became interested in jazz, and after school he listened to Charlie Parker.

“The piano of the 20s, 30s and 40s was king and Art Tatum was god,” Shirfin said. “One guy I really like, who doesn’t get a lot of credit, was Jelly Roll Morton.”

Jelly Roll Morton’s contribution to jazz was significant because his scores sound like improvised jazz, he added. As he progressed, he bought a saxophone and practiced both as much as possible.

In 1984 he had a vinyl record in Japan on saxophone called “Lean Wolf”.

“See, it’s a collector’s item now,” said Shifrin, who laughed while talking about it.

Shifrin, a multi-instrumentalist musician, said he started playing the piano again thanks to a job he landed on a Hawaiian cruise ship as a piano player.

“I worked very hard on the repertoire, learned a lot of material and took it very seriously,” Shirfin said.

In 1992 he met a passenger on a ship who was living in San Francisco and he eventually followed them here. At the time, San Francisco was experiencing a swing resurgence that provided him with many job opportunities. He’s worked in notable places like the Fairmont Hotel and the House of Shields, one of San Francisco’s oldest bars.

He also plays with a quartet every Wednesday at the Comstock Saloon in San Francisco. Visit for more information on the September 19 event.

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