Everyone knows John Lewis at the pianist and musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and a serious composer. The aura of seriousness followed Lewis in other ways: I don’t recall any photographs of him in a t-shirt, although there are some portraits in which he is broadly smiling. But the imagined picture of that handsome man in the tuxedo is so strong that some might forget that Lewis had deep roots in Basie and Ellington and the blues, that he accompanied Lester Young and Jo Jones on some splendid small-group recordings, and that he swung. (Check out DELAUNAY’S DILEMMA on an Atlantic session — IMPROVISED MEDITATIONS AND EXCURSIONS — if you don’t believe this.)
What better pianist to honor Lewis than our own Keith Ingham, someone who is also occasionally perceived through the wrong end of the telescope as a uniquely fine accompanist to singers, someone able to swing any band or to write arrangements that make everyone sound better. But Keith is not caught in the Thirties; his new Arbors CD has (by his choice) songs he loves by Wayne Shorter as well.
So we have a meeting of two modernists with roots — Lewis creating lovely melodies on his score sheet; Keith creating his at the piano, with the inspired playing of Frank Tate, string bass, and John Von Ohlen, drums, to guide and propel — all recorded at Jazz at Chautauqua on Sept. 18, 2011.
AFTERNOON IN PARIS:
SKATING IN CENTRAL PARK:
ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW:
Cerebral music with a deep soul.
And while we’re on the subject of Mr. Ingham and his subtly deep ways at the keyboard, I would like to follow up on an earlier posting — featuring Keith playing Dave Brubeck (also Arthur Schwartz and Billy Strayhorn). My friend Hank O’Neal (a member of the down-home nobility) sent the Brubeck recital to Dave himself! Dave loved it and said so in an email: “From listening to the Chautauqua concert on UTube I would say that Keith Ingham has a wonderful concept, an appreciation of jazz from the past and a look into the future. Really enjoyed it.”
I know that Keith spends far more time at the piano keyboard than the computer keyboard, but I know that Dave’s praise will get to him. Love will find a way, as Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle told us. And I hope some smart jazz booking agents will find ways to send Keith in person throughout the world of clubs and concerts.
The Brubeck post, in case you missed it, can be found here