On Location Residency, cont'd
Playing to a different beat
|...at the Knitting Factory|
|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.|
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 picture 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?
Indeed, once again, Thibaudet, impeccably dressed for the occasion as always* - in snappy charcoal black togs and sneakers - carried the night with his music and his charm.... COOL!
SNAPSHOTS AT THE KNITTING FACTORY
*Perhaps there is no better personification of the phrase "The style is the man" than Jean-Yves Thibaudet. With his manner of dress as with his playing, he never fails to make a statement. With the new millennium, he adopted a new look, abandoning his trademark red socks and Versace outfit for the subdued colors and crisply tailored designs of Thierry Mugler. "It's all part of being a performing artist," he says, "and my way of showing respect for the audience and the orchestra." This fusion of form (i.e., dress and body language) and substance in the artist makes every Thibaudet performance a double treat because it becomes both an aural and a visual experience.
his JAZZ CDs:
Conversation with Bill Evans Reflections
Photo: courtesy, ML Falcone
THE THIBAUDET PAGES
BIOGRAPHY RED SOCKS
JOIE DE VIVRE MASTER
TEACHER VICTOIRE D'HONNEUR
RECORDING ARTIST DISCOGRAPHY CALENDAR JYT & OPERA
RHAPSODY AT THE BOWL EAST/WEST '03 LAPHIL RESIDENCY LA/CARNEGIE
JYT on MOVIE MUSIC
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