Gonzales—who used a dildo as a microphone while grinding with fellow Canadian Peaches in their 2006 video “Red Leather”—isn’t the first guy you’d associate with classical music. The Paris-based multi-instrumentalist has shrewdly fashioned a career out of adopting different personas. In May, he broke the Guinness World Record for the longest concert performed by an individual after sitting at an upright piano in a Paris theater for 27 hours, three minutes and 44 seconds.
In 2005, Gonzales (a.k.a. 37-year-old Jason Beck) first surfaced as a classical pianist with Solo Piano, which has just received a beautifully packaged makeover. Heavily inspired by Satie’s Gymnopédies, the 16 self-penned tracks unfold with easy elegance. Having played since age three, Gonzales clearly knows his way around the ivories, and although there are no truly breathtaking moments, the charmingly understated Solo Piano is a remarkably successful indie-classical crossover, from the drizzling-raindrop-like notes of “Gogol” and “Armellodie” to the mellow rag of “Dot.”
Unfortunately, the accompanying DVD, From Major to Minor, throws a cog in the works. Gonzales leads excruciating piano “master classes” in French and English; we watch him play a jazzed-up version of “Chopsticks” and tepidly rework Daft Punk’s “Around the World.” A few volunteer students step on stage for lessons, only to be instructed to play a single note “while I make you look really good,” Gonzales says. Stick with the ambience, Jason, not the arrogance.