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Tad Weed in Dexter

By Sandy Schopbach

Starting off the month of May in music, the very versatile Tad Weed demonstrated his virtuosity with an evening of solo piano at Webster United Church in Dexter. He took the audience on a stroll through every imaginable style of jazz, from Handy's "St. Louis Blues" up through the swing of Ellington. It included a side trip to South America for some Argentinian tangos by Astor Piazzola and what he called "the unofficial anthem of Brazil," "Tristeza." Then back to America for a medley of Sinatra tunes, some of which he once played for Old Blue Eyes himself. That was followed by a second medley of Gershwinia before a big finish of Ellington and Strayhorn.

It was fun picking out the pieces within the medleys, especially as Weed disguises tunes by playing them in styles different from those they usually wear. For instance, there was a distinct flurry of Bach toccata and fugue in his "Come Fly with Me" and both ragtime and stride in other standards, as well as fugitive riffs of "Rhapsody in Blue" and "An American in Paris" popping up in the Gershwin medley. He also varied tempos from teasingly slow to a left hand so fast it was just a blur and fingers flying from one end of the keyboard to the other. I don't think there was a single one of those 88 keys that he didn't play!

Between songs Weed told snippets of jazz history and tales of his travels and fellow musicians. He felt he talked too much but it was all highly interesting. Of course, we all came for Weed's musical artistry, but the stories added another layer to the evening's entertainment, which won him a well-earned standing ovation at the end.