Adair Music Group and Nashville NPR Station, WMOT 89.5fm, are proud to announce the rebroadcasts of radio show “Improvised Thoughts” in the show’s original Sunday 7 p.m. weekly time slot, beginning Sunday, February 9, 2014!
a musician comes along with impeccable technique, deep understanding of the jazz repertoire, an innate tendency to swing and the rare ability to communicate the heart and soul of a tune to listeners. That musician is Beegie Adair.
“I have all of Beegie’s CD and love them all, but if I were to single out any of them it would be my first collection of Gershwin, Ellington, Rodgers, Berlin, Carmichael. It was purchased in Canada for me by my dear friend Agnes who is a concert pianist and has now gone profoundly deaf, but amazingly can still play. Both Myself and Husband adore Christmas and 2 years ago purchased the Christmas DVD which plays for the month of December on our big screen in the conservatory. Love you.”
There was a brief period in the late 1950s and very early ’60s when Capitol sagely paired George Shearing with a succession of the label’s top vocalists, including Peggy Lee, Dakota Staton, Nancy Wilson and Nat King Cole. The results were uniformly wonderful, setting a standard for sophistication that has, until now, never quite been equaled. But in Monica Ramey and Beegie Adair, Shearing and company have finally met their match.
Ramey and Adair have united before. The pianist joined the then-neophyte singer for two tracks on her 2009 debut album, Make Someone Happy. But they provided merely a subtle hint of the rich banquet to come. Perhaps it’s the urbane playlist, peppered with the well-aged likes of “You Fascinate Me So,” “Will You Still Be Mine?,” “Lullaby of the Leaves” and “Whisper Not.” Or maybe it’s Ramey’s ability to blend the suavity of Bobby Short with the sangfroid of Lee Wiley. Or it could be Adair’s refined agility, reminiscent of the young Barbara Carroll. Actually, it’s the combination of all three that evokes a sense of those bespoke Shearing days. Most impressive, the overall feeling here is more respectful than retro, as if some tony East Side boîte had, like Brigadoon, magically re-emerged.
Along for the stylish ride are Adair’s triomates, bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown, here and there augmented by George Tidwell on trumpet and flugelhorn and Denis Solee on saxophones and flute.
On her sophomore release, Monica Ramey further establishes herself as a first-rate interpreter of the jazz canon. Eschewing scat improv or excessive vibrato, Ramey opts for a subtle approach, finding the beauty in the melodies that made songs like “Witchcraft,” “Lullaby of the Leaves,” “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” and “You Fascinate Me So” the classics they are. That’s not to say Monica Ramey and the Beegie Adair Trio is a by-the-book exercise — Ramey has a knack for phrasing, at times employing an almost conversational approach that suggests she’d be pretty good at musical theater too. She’s especially effective on ballads like “I’ll Close My Eyes,” “Change Partners” and “Fly Away” (co-written by Adair and Lori Mechem), which showcase the delicate timbre of her voice. And she proves she has the one indispensable skill to be a successful jazz singer: selecting a terrific backing band. Pianist Adair, bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown are the cream of Nashville’s crop, particularly when it comes to accompanying vocalists. Local jazz stalwarts George Tidwell (trumpet) and Dennis Solee (saxophone, flute) make guest appearances.