Pianist and Nashville mainstay Beegie Adair has worked with the best country bands in Music City USA, including a three-year stint on The Johnny Cash Show. But on this week's episode of Piano Jazz, she swings through her deep knowledge of jazz and standards.
Adair opens the session with a lesser-known tune by Helen Merrill: the melancholy "If You Go," a beautiful, cinematic melody with a gripping Old World feel. The modest Adair calls the tune a warm-up: "It's the first tune of the day; I always feel like you should throw it back... and start again." To which host Marian McPartland counters, "Well, it's a lovely tune."
Adair really gets cooking with her take on Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud," written as a tribute to his fellow bebop pianist, Bud Powell. Her rendition of this tune surely swings, and is a contrast to Monk's angular blueprint. Adair makes a great go of it, carrying the tune across the keyboard.
"As a kid playing by myself, I had a habit of always trying to play all of the parts I would hear on a record," Adair says. "For example, I would try to play the part of the singer, the French horn, the violin, etc."
Next, McPartland plays solo on her composition, "Twilight World."
"That's such a beautiful, beautiful tune," Adair says. "It sounds like something I'd like to play sometime."
She then follows with Duke Ellington's "Daydream," and then the delicate yet swinging "Dream Dancing" by Cole Porter. Adair has an album of Porter tunes to her credit, and the songs fit her playing style nicely.
"I love the way he writes," Adair says. "The second phrase is always different than the first."
Adair and McPartland close with a tune favored by Adair's trio, "We'll Be Together Again." The song is a favorite of McPartland's, as well as a most appropriate end to this Piano Jazz session.