John C. O’Leary III, who earned grasp’s and Ph.D. levels in neuroscience from the College of South Florida, determined after commencement that he actually needed to be a musician, and he by no means regarded again.
“I make a dwelling as a jazz pianist,’’ he says, as if he can’t imagine it. “It’s wild!’’
O’Leary, 36, was born within the Yucatan Peninsula and moved to Pasco County simply earlier than his thirteenth birthday. His mom was a Mexican live performance pianist and retired as a Pinellas County faculty instructor, and his father is an American-born photographer. O’Leary performs within the trio, La Lucha, showing domestically at Eddie V’s in Tampa, the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg and at jazz festivals and different venues across the nation. O’Leary additionally performs solo usually at Ruth’s Chris Steak Home.
La Lucha has recorded six albums, and O’Leary has recorded two solo albums. His second, scheduled for launch in January by Arbor Information, options 10 solo performances, three duets with nine-time Grammy Award-winning pianist Shaun Martin and one duet with 94-year-old jazz pianist Dick Hyman, whose profession spans 70 years. Yamaha pianos has chosen O’Leary as a Yamaha Performing Artist; different Yamaha artists embody John Legend and Elton John.
O’Leary talked about music and neuroscience with the Tampa Bay Occasions.
How did you resolve to review neuroscience?
My father and my grandfather felt at the moment that, as it’s nonetheless now, it’s very onerous to have a stable profession as a musician, to earn an excellent dwelling with advantages, retirement, all these items. They actually needed me… to get a level that might assist me get an excellent job.
They didn’t thoughts for me to review music as effectively, so long as I did each. From the very starting I studied chemistry and I studied music. At first chemistry and tuba efficiency and finally, after I lastly made a transition to jazz, I grew to become a chemistry and jazz piano double main. …
I used to be taking full pre-med programs, fascinated by going to medical faculty for my money-earning profession after which learning music on the aspect. … It’s a number of work to do a double-major, so 5 years glided by and I solely had sufficient credit to graduate with a bachelor of arts in jazz piano efficiency, so I didn’t even find yourself ending my chemistry diploma. …
I actually did take pleasure in science. I wasn’t nice at it however I used to be fairly good. So I utilized on the school of medication to do primary biology analysis… within the neuroscience lab. And I obtained paired with (the late) Dr. Chad Dickey. He was on the Johnnie Byrd Alzheimer’s (Institute). … That’s the place I did my Ph.D. I spent 5 years… engaged on a grasp’s and Ph.D. in neuroscience. …
We labored on a bunch of proteins known as chaperone proteins and the way we might use these to assist treatment or reduce the burden of those ailments, particularly Alzheimer’s illness after which stress-related ailments like melancholy.
Did you’re employed for some time as a neuroscientist?
I didn’t. I completed my Ph.D. and I actually needed to do music. So I didn’t know what to do. It’s like, how can I make this occur? What’s one of the best ways to do that? So I made a decision to take a yr off. … One yr, and if I actually missed science, or if I actually felt that I wouldn’t be capable of make a dwelling as a musician, I’d simply cease.
Now at this level I (had) already been with La Lucha since 2006. We weren’t formally La Lucha till 2009, however we had been taking part in and making music collectively since 2006. …
We didn’t make our first document till 2009. By the point I graduated I had two albums with La Lucha, and I used to be taking part in a few nights per week at Mitchell’s Fish Market (the Tampa location closed final yr). My spouse (Samantha O’Leary) was pregnant, and we had been attempting to purchase a home, and I stated, “Honey, I feel I need to be a jazz musician.” And she or he was extremely supportive and stated, “Okay. Effectively, right here we go.’’ … She’s a nurse at All Kids’s Hospital.
Your mom began instructing you piano whenever you had been three years outdated. Did you want taking classes?
My mother is an excellent instructor for youngsters. And as a child, it was enjoyable. She had a piano studio. I loved it very a lot. I’d play with the opposite children and every child would come out of their taking part in time to take their… lesson. And we’d do group assignments collectively. It was very enjoyable. She would assist me observe. She would, like, pay me to observe, or I might go to the shop and decide one thing out. … She enforced it. I needed to observe earlier than my homework after which do homework and solely then might I watch TV or exit and play with my buddies. …
I resisted it once we moved to America. I used to be virtually 13 … I had zero curiosity to proceed practising the piano. I needed to fulfill new individuals, I needed to be social.
How did you regain your enthusiasm for it?
At that time I joined the center faculty band, and I performed the tuba. That’s what they wanted. … So throughout center faculty and highschool and my first two years of faculty, I believed I used to be going to be an orchestral tuba participant. And within the final three years of highschool… they requested me to play piano within the jazz band. I didn’t actually know any jazz. I simply listened and skim the sheet music as greatest I might and we took it from there. …
Our fourth, fifth and sixth intervals we’d go and play a gig on the Lions membership, so it was very cool. … I wasn’t excellent. I didn’t have any instructor for jazz at the moment. I didn’t actually know any jazz idea or concord. I listened to this album of Oscar Peterson. … I listened to that and I cried, and I instructed my mother that sooner or later I’d develop up and I’d play like Oscar Peterson.
So I grew up and I nonetheless can’t play like Oscar Peterson (laughs).
You performed classical rising up. You additionally play blues, however you gravitated to jazz. Do you want all three genres?
I really like all music. Duke Ellenton stated that there was two sorts of music. There was good music, after which there’s the opposite type. I believed, wow, that’s an effective way to place it.
O’Leary will carry out with Shaun Martin on the Palladium Theater Nov. 7. For extra data, go to mypalladium.org.