Edinburgh Jazz Festival: The Piano in Jazz

The Piano in Jazz, The Hub, Edinburgh
****
The days of the old Pianorama concert (in which most of the pianists in residence at the jazz festival would each play a 20-minute set, one after the other) may be gone, but the Piano in Jazz gig on Friday afternoon was the next best thing. As with Pianorama, it offered an eclectic mix of pianists – two very contemporary and one mainstream – but unlike the earlier format, they didn’t all play solo.
First up was the hot young London pianist Zoe Rahmann who didn’t chat, but let the piano do the talking, playing continuously throughout her allocated 30 minutes. Rahmann let one piece flow seamlessly into the next, and revealed a graceful, elegant style in the process. She ended with a masterful interpretation of the beautiful Ellington number Single Petal of a Rose before handing the stage over to American pianist David Berkman who was featured in a duo setting, with Scottish alto star Laura Macdonald.
Their wide-ranging programme highlighted their rapport and the pleasure they get from playing together. Highlights included the mesmerizing Ornette Coleman number Voice Poetry and and energetic take on John Coltrane’s Giant Steps which gave Macdonald especially something of a work-out both musically and physically.
The inclusion of local pianist Tom Finlay provided a contrast since his trio set had more appeal to the swing-oriented jazz fan. Accompanied by Americans Eric Harper (bass) and Ed Metz Jr (drums), Finlay dished up a hugely enjoyable and varied set including such gems as the jaunty Delaunay’s Dilemma and an eloquent What’s New which made great use of Metz’s classy drumming.
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