Even a guy that lives for vocal artists…

…enjoys just letting the instrumentals roll over me every once and awhile.

I know, the site’s named “VOCAL”standards.com … and I’m not backing off my love for the great standards singers that we ply here the vast majority of the time, but every now and again I find that I really like to get all “instrumental” up in the game.

My schedule of late has allowed me to regularly take in TheStandardsChannel’s Sunday Jazz Breakfast show … the jazz interpretative numbers and regular instrumental pieces Jim Raposa spins on that cool show have re-fired my instrumental jazz sensibilities!

I particularly like to have jazz piano/trio style instrumental standards stuff on while I write, and recently I’ve been plowing through the vast album array from Beegie Adair and dialing up a Beegie Adair “artist channel” on Pandora to lay down my soundtrack for writing.

Not really a review…

I’m not reviewing any specific Adair material with this piece nor targeting Beegie with a full artist review (at this time). This is more of a “tip of the hat” toward the jazz styled instrumental standards sub-genre and calling out Beegie Adair as dedicated practitioner — a lead instrumental standards “sled dog” of sorts.

There are lots of artists that perform jazz interpretations of the standards and a slew that land in the piano/trio end of that pool, but I doubt there are any that are more prolific that Ms. Adiar.

I’ve heard Beegie on various radio stations for years, but she jumped into full view recently when I heard this great piano rendition of “Take the A Train” on TheStandardsChannel.com and looked up at the player to see that it was Beegie. While digging around on Amazon to find her Jazz for the Road album release (April 24) and that great  “A Train” number, I found that Beegie’s released somewhere north of 50 30 albums over the past three decades … holy moly. [UPDATE: I heard from Beegie after publishing this piece and it turns out that I misfired in my attempt to interpolate between the various BA discographies out there … Beegie Adair just ticked over her 32nd release (with more on the way) … clearly not as prolific as I suggested! ;-)]

Many if not most of BA’s releases are theme albums that tie off to specific writer/arrangers, song styles or slices of life from the golden era of standards music … cocktail parties, traveling, the movies and the like. It’s fun stuff but not what I’d call “high concept” material like some of the LPs we’ve discussed from Sammy Davis and Frank Sinatra. Beegie’s theme parsing feels more like a gathering of like material which is absolutely fine.

Again, this is not a hard edged review … that said, I do want to convey that I certainly enjoy listening to Adair’s interpretive work. She does get dinged in reviews every now and then for delivering what some folks think are vanilla sounding … almost “Muzak-ish” sort of numbers.

I get what the reviewers are saying (though the “Nordstrom’s piano” critique for a Steinway Artist like Beegie is just wrong) and I do hear a song every so often that doesn’t ring the bell for me, but my listening experience with Beegie has been far and away a positive one.

Even better with “friends”…

BA does albums with her regular trio partners (Roger Spenser and Chris Brown) but also releases “Beegie Adair and Friends” material that I’m particularly fond of. The BA trio are great, but the addition of outstanding sax or jazz guitar accompaniment spices things up and renders an enhanced Beegie Adair experience from my perspective.

Likewise I think her live material has an extra something that distinguishes it from the Beegie-norm.

If you’re game to step up the jazz quotient in your standards listening, I definitely recommend exploring the instrumental wing of the genre. And if you’re looking for an entree, give Beegie Adair and her Steinway a listen.