PLAYING TO A DIFFERENT BEAT!
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, a long-time jazz afficionado, was quite content to be just an avid listener. Until a couple of years ago when from out of the blue came an offer for him to try his hand(s) at being a player – for a solo jazz recording of Bill Evans pieces. He did not turn it down. And he prepared for it – as seriously as he would for a recording of Ravel, Brahms or Beethoven. The happy result was Conversations with Bill Evans,and to date he treasures the experience as one of the great musical joys of his life.
Which was what he shared with a cozy audience one balmy Hollywood evening last November at a rock club-theater called the Knitting Factory. Not the usual joint for a concert by the celebrated classical pianist, true; but since this time he was playing to a different beat, the off-beat venue was the kind of place to be. And the happy pictures above, taken moments after the concert, says he came out of it swingin’.
And why not? It was a fun evening of Bill Evans‘ and Duke Ellington’s music – transcribed especially for Thibaudet by Jed Distler. Host-cum-raconteur of the evening was jazz pianist and Thibaudet friend and jazz mentor, Joel Silberman, whom Jean-Yves joined in conversations between numbers.
Together, they placed the concert program in the context of Jean-Yves’ metier: this was not going to be your typical jazz session, but a concert where classical sensibilities bonded with the aesthetics of jazz. And if you as audience member accepted that, then you could only have had a jolly good time, as we did.
And if you also understood as Jean-Yves pointed out from his perch on the stage, that a classical pianist is raised and trained on music written to the last note and the littlest notation, then the transcription of Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debby” (or “Here’s that rainy day” or “Reflections in D”) played to the gentle rhythm of Thibaudet’s heartbeat was to you as much the “real thing” as an on-the-spot improvisation by a true-blue jazzman could have been.
And if you had a sense of the range of Jean-Yves’ musical intelligence, you probably applauded his tribute to Duke Ellington as the equal of such great 20th century composers as Stravinsky and Ravel, as many in the audience did just before he got them stomping to Ellington’s “Jubilee Stomp”.
And if until that evening, you had little more than a nodding acquaintance with jazz or Bill Evans and Duke Ellington, wasn’t this concert a wonderful way to be introduced?
CLICK on the LINKS below to listen to some clips of Jean-Yves playing pieces from his Jazz CDs.
“Conversations with Bill Evans”:
||Song For Helen||
||Here’s That Rainy Day|
||Waltz For Debbie||
||Lucky To Be Me|
||Turn Out The Stars||
||Reflections in D|
“Reflections on Duke”:
||In a sentimental mood||
||Caravan – Fantasy|