An upcoming concert will consist entirely of songs written by Vancouver jazz artist Miles Black, who became a professional pianist at the age of 14 and reckons he has written 8,000 songs since then.

"I've got old scraps of sheet music that I have from when I was 13," Black, 49, told Hot Air host Margaret Gallagher.

Miles Black

Miles Black with Hot Air host Margaret Gallagher. (CBC)

The Mike Allen Quartet will be performing songs that span Black's three-decade career at a Legacy Jazz Series Society concert at the CBC Vancouver Broadcast Centre on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Black is part of the quartet — but he'll be playing guitar, the instrument both he and his brother started playing at a young age because of their father.

Wanted to jam with dad

"My dad played guitar, so he always had a lot of musicians coming around our house when we were kids, and lots of jam sessions," he said.

"Really, that is the honest reason why we got into music in the first place, was to jam with my dad and his hippy friends."

Black said he then started playing some basic blues on the piano, began taking classical piano lessons at the age of 11, and by 14 he was playing professionally.

He credits his success to the support and encouragement of both his piano teacher George Essihos, and his parents.

"When I think about it it boggles my mind how that happened so quickly," he said.

Black is now one of of Canada's most in-demand jazz pianists, working with people like Slide Hampton, Sheila Jordan, Max Roach, Maynard Ferguson and Ingrid Jensen.

Black's many projects include the Altered Laws with Tom Keenlyside, Trilogy with Bill Coon and Jodi Proznick, and a long time member of the Oliver Gannon Quartet.

Love of piano and guitar

He said that he didn't necessarily intend for piano to become his dominant instrument, but said he "just really fell in love with being able to make so much music" with the 88-keyed instrument.

Miles Black

Guitar was the first instrument Black picked up - because he wanted to join his father's jam sessions. He will play guitar with the Mike Allen Quartet at a concert at CBC Vancouver on Feb. 6. (

"It's almost like an orchestra under your fingertips, and I think that really appealed to me when I was young."

Guitar however, still has a lot of meaning for him.

"With my guitars I have a very personal relationship … I've got names for them, they have characteristics, and once I get to know the guitars they get to know me," he said. (His two main guitars, Daisy and Diego, are named after two tiger cubs he met in Mexico).

"Another thing I love about guitar is I love being able to be geographically close to the musicians I'm playing with," he said.

"With piano sometimes — especially with a grand piano — I can be nine feet away from the band, and I don't get the sense that I'm one with the group."

Though there are many songs to choose from, Black said the audience can be reassured that not all of his 8,000 songs will be performed at the Feb. 6 show.

"No, we're not playing all of my music," he laughed.

"That would be an incredibly long, tedious concert."

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Upcoming concert showcases songs composed by prolific pianist Miles Black