TIM GHIANNI on his friendship with Bobby Hebb
"We're in the university of life and last time I checked, no one is in a hurry to graduate."
the gentlest soul I’ve ever met in the years I’ve been privileged to
interview musicians, Bobby Hebb looked up at me and smiled when he said
I quickly scribbled that down in my now unreadable reporter’s
notebook, took a long deep sip of the Scandinavian roast coffee that
“I think you’ll like this,” he had said, urging me to
go ahead and try his formula for boosting the coffee’s spirit-lifting
taste, attitude even.
Hebb spooned some brown sugar into my cup and
poured in some real cream, not of the low fat variety – for he was only
5-foot-6 and 130 pounds – and we looked out the back door of his tidy
home in Bordeaux.
“It’s nice to be back home,” he said, before
leading the way back to the living room/dining room/family room
combination that was filled with the tools with which he served
There was a baby grand, some guitars, a keyboard.
to this,” he said, walking over to the stereo near the front window. He
put a CD in the changer, let it load up and then pushed play.
song that was Hebb’s greatest gift to the world – one composed of his
own despair, alone in a New York apartment – softly escalates in volume,
gradually filling the room. Bobby’s eyes glisten with soft tears of
“This is my favorite version,” he says as a very different –
though still oh-so-familiar – version of Bobby’s classic, “Sunny,”
escapes from the speakers.
“This is Eugen Cicero,” he says, softly,
so as not to interrupt this music. For the next seven minutes or so, the
living room in Bordeaux is filled with the European pianist’s version
It’s all instrumental – although in this listener’s mind, the lyrics are ever-present – and is deceptively simple: piano with upright bass backing. While exploring ”Sunny” in a way that would have made Bobby’s old friend Thelonious Monk proud, Cicero offers up doses of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and Chopin's Polonaise in A-Flat Major.
sip our brown-sugar-hinted, almost espresso, and listen. Neither of us
wants to speak, as Bobby’s eyes dance, his denim-clad leg bounces
oh-so-slightly to the beat.
Listen to Eugene Cicero "Sunny"
Sunny - Eugen Cicero's last recording
Swinging Piano Classics
Eugen Cicero's last recording
Eugen Cicero - Piano
Decebal Badila - Bajo Eléctrico .
Recorded in concert at the Kursaal in Uberlingen am Bodensee in December 1996,
SUNNY in Italian
Luisa Casali - Sunny (Bobby Hebb Cover - in Italian)
Label: Fox -- HF 1011
Format: Vinyl, 7''