Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Beegie Adair Trio: The Real Thing

Green Hill Music
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: The Real Thing

Remember the days when you’d go out for an evening of music and recognize every song performed? Well, that’s what we have with this release by the Beegie Adair Trio. 

Adair was born during the early years of the swing era. She began to play the piano at age 5, earned an undergraduate degree in music education at Kentucky’s Western State University, then began a life dedicated to that art form. She taught for awhile, played in local jazz groups, became a session musician for radio and TV gigs, and wrote commercial jingles ... while simultaneously freelancing as a pianist. She fronted a trio as early as 1966, but her first recording under her own name didn't come until 1991's Escape to New York. She's quite prolific; she has released dozens of albums as a leader, and guested on many others.

Adair's favorite group configuration is a trio. She’s supported here by bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown; both have been with her for years. These folks play authentic mainstream jazz: the wonderful music your parents (or grandparents!) used to listen and dance to, when they were younger. 

But that doesn’t mean this stuff is dated: Not by a long shot. It truly swings! 

The fact that this album was recorded before a live audience contributes to its excellence. The arrangements tend to be longer, with no constraints related to fitting a certain number of tracks onto a CD); the solos also linger more; and the presence of an audience, and its reaction, always has a positive impact on the performers. 

Because almost all the songs in this release are familiar standards — tunes that often carry special memories for those in the audience — that always results in a friendlier reception. The only sorta-kinda non-standard is Thelonious Monk’s “Rhythm-A-Ning,” but since that tune is based on the chord structure of “I Got Rhythm,” it counts anyway. 

I haven’t heard “Besame Mucho,” “The Lamp Is Low,” “My Old Flame,” “Stairway to the Stars” and “We’ll Be Together Again” in years. I loved this well-delivered reminder, and you will also.

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