Some people are impressive from the moment you meet them. One of them is Irving Fields, the 96-year old pianist at Nino’s on W58th. Last night my sister, Grace and I had dinner there (a big seafood platter followed by all kinds of steaks, with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Californian Cabernet Sauvignon), and when we walked in we were immediately welcomed by the pianist with a little tune.
After our starter he walked over to our table to ask if we had any special requests (Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind and Frank Sinatra’s My Way were our choices) and then we started talking. Until then I did not realize that he was 96 years old. He looked much younger and he behaved like somebody many years his junior. He told some of the stories of his life: although he was born and raised in New York he spent much of his live abroad playing on cruise ships all over the world and in some of the most exclusive hotels (The Taj in Bombay, The Peninsula in Hong Kong and the Imperial Hotel in Japan). In the 1950s he was quite famous with his Irving Fields Trio with which he topped the charts and he recorded almost 100 albums in his life! He actually even composed a theme song for YouTube, that has been watched almost 850,000 times already.
Of course I bought his latest CD, that he signed for me. When he realized that Grace is Chinese he gave her a copy of his composition “Hong Kong Serenade”, so she can ask any pianist worldwide to play it for her. It was great meeting a friendly, truly nice and very gifted person like Irving Fields, he made our excellent dinner into an even more special evening. When we left he gave us a list of his secrets to longevity, which contained among others “When in an argument, change the subject”, “Be happy about the success of others, not just yours”, “Travel is important, memorable, fun and educational”, and “Enjoy every day to the fullest”. I don’t think he will ever read this, but I would like to thank him for the great atmosphere he created last night and I hope he will keep on playing for many years to come.
Irving Fields plays 6 nights at week at Nino’s on 117 W 58th, check him out there if you in the neighborhood and looking for a great dinner with live piano music. Irving Fields Wikipedia entry is here.
This is so funny….I went also to Nino’s with my parents and he sat with us. When he learned that we were from Montreal, he looked into his music sheets and found one that he had composed about Montreal when he had played there many years ago. He also gave it to us as a reminder. Incredible, but he just turned 98 and still playing there 6 nights a week!