The jazz community came together again in St. Peter’s last night, rallying for one of their own. On this occasion some of the finest pianists in New York played an original Fazioli piano, courtesy of Klavierhaus, to benefit Larry Willis, whose house recently burned down (PR here). Willis is known as a fine jazz pianist in his own right, as well as from prominent sideman gigs with Hugh Masekela, and as a member of Blood Sweat & Tears. He also played on Eddie Gale’s A Minute for Miles (a great CD I constantly recommend).
It was an ambitious schedule of one solo pianist every ten minutes. I had to laugh when I first saw it in my e-mail. The evening did indeed start with a great performance from Mamiko Watanabe as planned, but from there the schedule was out the window. So be it. Those in attendance heard from jazz greats like Don Friedman, Geri Allen, and Mulgrew Miller. Some impressive classical performances from Ran Jia and Sachiko Kato mixed up the program nicely. Also breaking format, were performances from Willis himself, accompanying Jimmy Owens on flugelhorn. The evening ended with beautiful performances by Deanna Witkowski and Helen Sung. Actually, that’s just when it ended for me, as there were in fact two pianists left.
It was a night of great music. There was a nice audience on hand throughout, with late arrivals constantly replacing those leaving earlier, so hopefully it was successful as a fundraiser as well as artistically.