Capture if you will a moment in your life when the mood, music, and a scene from a particular movie engraved a moment in your memory bank. Likelihood is that the film you were watching with your significant other close by your side, would be instantly recalled when you hear that familiar theme. We all have those experiences at one time or another and it is dedicated artists like Beegie Adair that bring them back to life, note by note. Whether by jewel box or performance, Ms. Adair feels what you feel, sees what you see, and acts upon, with music. For most, the ivory flight of resonance is a stranger, but for Ms. Adair, the piano is the opening to a world filled with memories and moments.
So it is with "An Affair To Remember," that some of these tunes ignite our memories, so we may relive those thrilling, heartfelt moments of yesteryear. From Love is a Many Splendid Thing to The Bold and the Beautiful, it is all so very warm and invigorating with talent. Village Music Square allows us to escape into this open book of movie flashes with the highly respected talent of the Beegie Adair Trio and the Jeff Steinberg Orchestra.
With piano bench pulled out from under and a restful breathe, I captured Ms. Adair’s principles, past and perceptions between sets. A stunning look at the making of "An Affair To Remember" and that, which made it, happened
JazzReview: Do you consider Beegie Adair to be as complex as many musicians tend to be perceived?
Beegie Adair: I try not to consider myself to be very complex, although jazz musicians in general may be perceived that way. I like to live a simple life and be thought of as a normal, everyday person. Jazz music is really the root music of America, and I like to think that those of us who play it are just ordinary folks who are telling a story. Sometimes I feel musicians want to be seen as complex if they have big egos. I try to leave my ego at the door and let the music speak for itself.
JazzReview: Talent aside, what separates the psyche of Ms. Adair from the rest of the field, both musically and conceptually?
Beegie Adair: Talent aside, I don't want to be separated too far from the rest of the field, but I hope I can stand out a little as a melody player, and a lover of the American Song Book. I feel strongly that the concept of our albums must remain true to the intent of those composers.
JazzReview: Can you elaborate on your fascination with the genre of pre-seventies music and the cinema?
Beegie Adair: I think the fascination with older music comes simply from the fact that I was born and reared in the era of that music. My parents had many wonderful recordings, both Big Band, vocal, and even country and western swing. As much as I admire some later 60's and 70's composers, my heart lies with the music of the 40's and 50's. It's just very comfortable for me.
JazzReview: Is the emotional variable with a piece a strong catalyst when selecting a composition to embrace?
Beegie Adair: The emotional content of a particular song is very important, but so is the melody. It has to be "all of a piece" for me to fall in love with a song. Both the lyric and the melody have to be very strong and must strike a chord with me. Sometimes a lovely melody captures me and sometimes a lyric is particularly poignant, but usually they both work together.
JazzReview: Can you describe the compulsion to arrange and expand on a certain piece?
Beegie Adair: Improvising on a certain piece of music usually takes place because the music lends itself to that. Some songs are just born to be improvised on. I'm speaking here of mostly jazz tunes/standards, but also the American theatre repertoire, such as Gershwin, Porter, Kern, etcetera, can fall into that category as well. The mark of a good song is that you can fool around with it and its core strength will remain.
JazzReview: What signature do you use to label your name to a piece? In other words, how do we know this is an Adair enhancement of a classic?
Beegie Adair: People tell me they like it, that I seem to "play the words." That means that I try to remain true to what the writers intended, both lyrically and musically. I love lyrics as I do melody, so I would hope that my signature would be that you could hear both in the music.
JazzReview: At what point in your career did you feel most fulfilled? A moment? A performance? Expand if you will.
Beegie Adair: The moment I felt most fulfilled would probably have to be when I became an official Steinway artist, several years back. That was a dream of mine since college, and a real validation of my work. On the other hand, at the end of any concert or club performance, I can feel an exhilaration coming from the energy with my bassist and drummer that make me feel just wonderful on a regular basis. Each time we play, I get a boost that lets me know we're on the right track!
JazzReview: Boundaries and barriers are the killer "B’s" of creativity and concept. How do you deal with these when giving birth to your latest project "An Affair To Remember?"
Beegie Adair: Boundaries and barriers; Quite honestly, I have such a good support system during the making of our records, as regards [to] the producers, arrangers and my rhythm section, that everything is all positive. If there are barriers, they can sometimes be family situations, deadlines, obligations, etc. In addition, I can sometimes put barriers in my own way - just maybe not getting enough rest, or not working my fingers out enough, so that it's not as easy to get around on the keyboard.
This might be a good time to mention that I have a fairly severe connective tissue disorder called Reynaud's disease, which causes the capillaries in the fingertips to be compromised, causing numbness in the fingers and a lack of mobility. It's worse in the winter and I would probably be happier in a tropical climate, but I work with it. That is a barrier, but not one that stops us. Creatively, we all had a ball with "Affair," as we all loved the songs so much. So we just ran with that one. It was a labor of love.
"An Affair to Remember" is?.......... These songs were important pivotal points in my life at the time I was in high school and college. They were movies I loved, but in addition, they contained melodies that were unforgettable.
JazzReview: What cuts caused the most time and effort in studio for you?
Beegie Adair: Actually, no cuts were particularly difficult. We did a lot of homework and some rehearsals with the trio, so we were pretty secure going in. Our studio time is usually pretty minimal, one to three takes at the most, because we're usually well prepared.
JazzReview: Did the combination of the Beegie Adair Trio and the Jeff Steinberg Orchestra pose any major hurdles during recording?
Beegie Adair: Jeff Steinberg and I are always on the same wavelength musically. We never have any real hurdles because we do a lot of homework, the two of us. By the time we're ready to record, we've been through the tunes a lot, setting keys, arrangements, routines, so there are few surprises once we get into the studio.
JazzReview: What was most enjoyable of the marriage of these two bands?
Beegie Adair: Most enjoyable for me is sitting in the control room after we've done the trio recordings and listening to the strings add the beautiful touches to the album. Jeff always writes the string arrangements around what the trio has played, so the chord changes remain ours. They are separate recording dates and it's fun for me to sit there and hear how the strings and woodwinds enhance what we've already done.
JazzReview: Describe the feel and emotional work endured during the whole process of this current project?
Beegie Adair: The feel and emotional work of this project was really like all our other projects. This team of musicians, producers and engineers is really on the same wavelength. We always have fun together and musically, it's a wonderful experience.
JazzReview: Would you have changed anything connected with this project, other cuts, additions, subtractions, and arrangements?
Beegie Adair: I wouldn't change anything we did; it was hard to narrow the choices of song down, so if I could have, I would have added some more songs. That's all.
JazzReview: I enjoyed this disc so very much, it just was a pleasure to embrace and recall those thrilling screen events of times gone by. Was this the effect you where hoping to ignite?
Beegie Adair: We were hoping to make people not only remember these wonderful songs, but maybe to re-live a little bit, the feeling they got when they first saw these movies. For myself, I had always loved these songs and the movies, so I wanted to capture that nostalgic feeling in the music.
JazzReview: If you could put together the quintessential Adair piece, what would your heart sing out?
Beegie Adair: Honestly, if I could do an album of my own choosing, I would do a 50’s sort of jazz album of Chet Baker songs, and some vocals like the old Peggy Lee/June Christy ballads as a tribute to the music that I first fell in love with and wanted to play.
JazzReview: Talk to the next project and performance dates coming up.
Beegie Adair: We've talked about several projects; We will most likely do some more composer collections, like maybe Harry Warren, Henry Mancini or Harold Arlen. Also, we've talked about doing some solo albums and some romantic collections, just songs that are timeless like Body and Soul and Angel Eyes. We're throwing all kinds of ideas around and who knows what will come up.
As to performance dates, we are auditioning bookers at this point. And while we have lots of listeners all over the country, we're just trying to hook up those numbers with venues where we can perform. Usually we do performance halls that seat around 300-600 people, and clubs that cater to piano trios. We're ready to take on the country in a big way and bring the music to wherever our listeners are.
JazzReview: Who do you feel would be a great compliment to your style and theory that you would love to share the stage with?
Beegie Adair: I would love to share a stage with Tony Bennett. I've been a fan of his since Rags To Riches, and I always wanted to play for him at some point, although I was a great fan of his former pianist, Ralph Sharon. I know Tony's music and I just think we'd have a wonderful time! As for dueling keyboards, I don't like contests, but it would be fun to play again with Marian McPartland, and with my old friend and college-buddy Mike Longo, with whom I've done a duo-concert. Piano players tend to be very egalitarian, and there are many people I'd like to share a stage with.
So, therein lays the artist and her thoughts for she has a tale to tell not unlike a movie screenplay. Ms. Adair holds her composition and arrangements near and dear to her side, as they are part of her. She has worked with the best and the best state the same. Ms. Adair has that compassion for romance and culture, and cuts in time that soon all become recreated in and around her sound.