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"Streaming Live From the Playroom" is not just a wonderful adaptation but also an outreach to jazz aficionados who might otherwise miss the great offerings from the Bechtler Museum of Art in Charlotte, NC. On October 2, the guest performers included world-class pianist, jazz musician, and educator Martin Bejerano with Al Sergel on drums and Zack Page on bass. Zaid Rabie, saxophonist for the Zaid Jazz Quartet and artistic director, brought them together for a fabulous evening virtual getaway.
Except for a couple of standards, the compositions were all Bejerano's – on this occasion played by the quartet. They opened the set with "B. Radley." (You can watch Bejerano on his website and on his YouTube channel.) The piano opening is a sweet melody with a gentle Latin dance lilt. Bejerano played with beautifully connected tone. I pictured a couple on the floor – purple lights casting a romantic hue. Page's bass solo and the ensemble communication breathed "it's alright." Rabie switched to tenor sax for "Old School" (on Trio Miami) and gave short introductions with accolades for the band. What a great opening set.
The quartet shined on Victor Young's lovely standard "Stella By Starlight." Warmed up and in his element, Rabie played with ease and a beautiful tone. I loved Page's playing, especially the delicately placed descending slide that complemented Bejerano's spacious phrasing. No wonder so many jazz greats put their own spin on this tune. Yet, only Ella Fitzgerald's beautiful rendition could move me so.
Bejerano's "The Reckoning Song" is fast-moving, deep, rich, sometimes dark and rule-breaking. Did he find his inspiration by looking back (perhaps Ritornello form of the Baroque?) or zooming into the future, or both? This quartet version called for big solos and lightning-fast responses. Their well-executed, supercharged performance worked better than a double espresso. I only wish the cameras zoomed and the lighting was more favorable for viewing the bass player. Oh, and not to complain (art patrons are so very important – we love you!), can we save the announcements and sponsorships for the end of the program on the written credits? There is never a good place during a performance, especially on this format.
The band took us out on Bejerano's sultry "Last Happy Hour" with a bass segue to Sonny Rollin's "Airegin." Bejerano's Latin arrangement for Trio Miami was the perfect send out. We really got a taste of the pianist's style and technique that put him in the top tier of young jazz musicians. My jazz-loving partner smiled. I pictured a standing ovation; with the shouts and whistles from the club-goers who belonged in this space.
If you want to savor more of these pieces, pick up a copy of Bejerano's Trio Miami, an album that belongs on your favorites list.