Ricardo Scales: San Francisco's most versatile shining star
A man with the genius and vivacity of Ricardo Scales was born to be noticed. It wasn't long after he began playing piano at San Francisco's famed Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel that Ricardo attracted the attention of critics, musicians, and concert-goers alike. Artists such as Billy Joel, Harry Connick Jr., Liza Minelli, and Joe Cocker are among the few who visited Ricardo at the Redwood Room to join him on a number or two.
Ricardo has played for five United States presidents, including Bill Clinton, and countless diplomats, heads of state, and foreign dignitaries. He has shared concert bills with such notables as Debbie Reynolds, the Commodores, Nancy Wilson, Jerry Vale, Nelson Rangell, Jeff Linsky, and Kenny Lattimore. He is the preferred pianist of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who raves that Ricardo's dynamic performances will surely "cement him and his orchestra into classical/smooth jazz history."
Ricardo has also recorded five CDs to critical acclaim: Obsession, Yes, I'm Ready, Forever Love, Doin' It Right, and most recently, Straight from the Heart, released in March, 2001. These CDs contain both old-time and original scores, many of which are in regular rotation on national radio stations.
Perhaps Ricardo's versatility is connected with his popular success. Able to deliver smooth background jazz for museum openings, party-starting funk for fund-raisers, elegant classical for political forums, or danceable favorites for weddings and wine festivals, Ricardo knows just the note to hit for different audiences. This impressive repertoire, in combination with talent and tenacity, cinches Ricardo as one of today's most exciting performers and will surely earn him a seat among San Francisco's very finest musicians of all time.
But things weren't always so sunny for Ricardo, whose love for music was dramatically tested when he was still very young. At the age of nineteen, while studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under such masters as Beatrice Beauregard and Herbie Hancock, Ricardo suffered an injury that severed the cords to three of his fingers and rendered his left hand completely incapacitated. Doctors told him he would never play the piano again. A panel of teachers at San Francisco State University suggested he drop the piano for good and paint houses for a living.
In the face of this negativity, Ricardo never questioned his calling or rethought his goals. Instead, he reapplied himself tenfold, determined to recover the loss of movement and dexterity in his hand. He sat at his piano for several hours each day, tenaciously pressing the fingers of his right hand down upon the paralyzed fingers of his left to strike the keys and play the notes.
After many desperate months of this self-invented therapy, Ricardo was rewarded with positive results. His left hand slowly became stronger until he could use it to hit keys timidly, with no assistance from his right. After many more laborious months, his left hand became as strong and agile as it had been before the accident.
Ricardo had triumphed, but was humbled. After his grinding contest with disaster, he realized that the precious things in life are also often the most precarious. With this new perspective, he took on the piano with the gusto of a small army. Determined to maximize his talent, he mastered practically every existing genre of music, including classical, jazz, gospel, funk, and R&B, and began performing regularly to audiences-the ultimate beneficiaries of Ricardo's undying commitment to music.