Jazz at Home
Our Friday nights just aren't the same without Jazz at the Bechtler. Until we are tapping our feet together again, we bring you Jazz at Home! Check out some of Ziad Rabie’s favorite moments from past Bechtler concerts.
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New content uploaded May 8, 2020.
1. DR. JACKLE by Jackie McLean
March 6, 2020
[Ziad-Tenor Sax, Lynn Grissett-trumpet, Sam King-alto sax, Kobie Watkins-drums, Sean Higgins-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass]
Ziad’s Notes: This was our last show before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Jazz at the Bechtler was put on hold. We did all the songs from the Miles Davis album, Milestones, recorded just before Kind of Blue. Almost the same band as on Kind Of Blue-- with Miles (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Cannonball Adderley (alto sax), Paul Chambers (acoustic bass), but with Red Garland (piano) and Philly Joe Jones (drums). It was especially fun because (due to a scheduling conflict) I had to find an alto sax player who could jump in last minute for the Cannonball part. A tall order to be sure! Finally, after exhausting my “go to” sources and finding everyone unavailable, I called my new friend from the last Latin Jazz show, trumpeter Al Strong. I asked him if he knew someone who could fit the bill, and his reply was “as a matter of fact I do.” So I called Al’s recommendation, Sam King, and locked him in on the date. I did some research so I could give Sam a proper introduction. I discovered this: he won the Outstanding Alto Saxophone Solo Award at the 1st Inaugural Jack Rudin Jazz Championship Competition in NYC at the Lincoln Center. This song, Dr. Jackle, was written by alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, and is played at warp speed. After meeting Sam earlier that day for rehearsal, I was excited to hear this young man play. As you can see and hear, he did not let anyone down, AND he is a wonderful, humble, respectful person. This song was certainly one of my favorite moments of the show. Not to mention how fortunate we were to have drummer Kobie Watkins (who played and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Kurt Elling and so many others) as well as trumpeter Lynn Grissett (Prince and the New Power Generation alumnus). Such a great night!
CONCERT: TRIBUTE TO HERBIE HANCOCK ft. Lovell Bradford
2. MAIDEN VOYAGE by Herbie Hancock
September 3, 2019
[Ziad-tenor sax, Lovell Bradford-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]
Ziad’s Notes: It was so nice to have Lovell Bradford on this show. As one of his many credits, he was the musical director and performed with the great vocalist Jennifer Holiday. He is such a passionate pianist, and Herbie’s style is right up his alley. We decided this would be a great song for Lovell to set up with a solo piano improv at the beginning. During that time, the musicians get to be a part of the audience as we await our entrance, since none of us know what will happen during the piano intro, including Lovell, very probably. In that moment, on the 2nd show, he decided to play Amazing Grace as the intro. Simply gorgeous! Then he takes us into the classic Herbie Hancock composition, Maiden Voyage, which took on a life of its own.
CONCERT: LATIN JAZZ
3. FOOTPRINTS by Wayne Shorter (Dave Valentin Version)
June 1, 2018
[Ziad-Tenor Sax, Justin Ray-trumpet, Nelson Rios-electric bass, Jim Brock-percussion, Rick Dior-drums, Noel Freidline-piano]
Ziad’s Notes: Latin Jazz 2018 marked the first show we did with Nelson Rios on bass. Originally from Brazil, Nelson has performed with Lee Ritenhour, Alex Acuna and Airto Moreira, to name a few. He ended up in Charlotte, where he is currently the music director for Forest Hill Church. We have developed a great friendship since then, and it was exciting to have him at the Bechtler Museum for the first time. Also joining us was Justin Ray on trumpet (veteran of Michael Bublé’s band) who luckily was off the road temporarily at the time. Additionally, my friend of 40 years, Jim Brock was on percussion. His credits are far too extensive to list here, but suffice it to say, they span across Rock, Pop, Jazz, Country, Folk, R&B, New Age & Inspirational. One very relevant artist he worked with would be the late great flautist, Dave Valentin, from whence this arrangement comes. The tune is Footprints. This composition, originally by Wayne Shorter, was in 3/4 time. Dave Valentin adapted it in fast 4/4 time with a Latin feel so it made a great opener for the concert!
CONCERT: FRÉDÉRIC YONNET (New Sound Series; The Harmonica In Jazz)
4. THE VOICE by Frédéric Yonnet
March 2, 2018
5. THE CALLING by Frédéric Yonnet
November 4, 2016
[Ziad-soprano & tenor sax, Frédéric Yonnet-harmonica, Ron Brendle-acoustic & electric bass, Al Sergel-drums, Noel Freidline-keyboard]
Ziad’s Notes: So on this installment of #JazzatHome, I wanted to include a couple of songs from the amazing harmonicist, Frédéric Yonnet. Both songs included are Frédéric’s original compositions. The Voice was from the 2018 concert’s second show. What a gorgeous haunting melody! The Calling, is from the first concert’s first show, and was performed after meeting Frédéric for the first time and rehearsing for only about an hour before the performance. Frédéric’s amazing spontaneity and energy were something that the band experienced real time along with the audience. We definitely had to concentrate a bit more. This concert was a suggestion by former U.S. Congressman and Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mel Watt, who knew Frédéric from his time in Washington, D.C. Frédéric’s performance came at the perfect time, as we set out on our next five year plan for the jazz series. This show provided the perfect illustration of where we wanted to go with the series. As a side note; while I was visiting with Frédéric in his dressing room right before the show, I discovered his intense affinity for coffee. He carries his own little portable whole bean grinder and coffee maker with him. I have never seen anyone so excited about coffee beans in my life-- the smell, the taste, the origin, every nuance of the experience. I have always loved coffee, but now I am on a new level, thanks to Frédéric.
CONCERT: TRIBUTE TO DUKE ELLINGTON
6. BLACK & TAN FANTASY by Duke Ellington
June 7, 2013
[Ziad-soprano sax, Tyrone Jefferson-trombone, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Brian Sullivan-drums]
Ziad’s Notes: How can you have a jazz series without doing a Duke Ellington tribute at some point? While planning the show, it occurred to me that it would be a great opportunity to ask my longtime friend, Tyrone Jefferson, to play trombone with us. Tyrone was a twenty-seven year veteran of, and musical director for, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. It was truly an honor to have him perform with us, cuz he’s “Superbad”. Tyrone currently is musical director and founder of the non-profit “A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas” located here in Charlotte, NC. [https://www.asignofthetimes.org/ ] Tyrone has performed and/or recorded with hip hop artist L.L. Cool J, rap pioneers Public Enemy, gospel artist Heather Hedley and was part of the legendary jazz saxophonist/composer Frank Foster’s jazz ensemble Living Color: 10 Shades of Black, as well as master trombonist “Slide” Hampton’s World of Trombones jazz group. This song is a slow blues, and Tyrone plays a really great solo. Black & Tan Fantasy is an Ellington composition from 1927, and it is featured in the 1929 short film, Black & Tan. Here is a brief history of the film and role of the song: The plot is about a couple in the performing arts, and it is set during the time of the contemporary Harlem Renaissance in New York City. The film was the first to feature Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, and starred actress Fredi Washington as Duke’s wife. Both used their own names, but played mildly veiled “fictional” characters. Fredi Washington’s character dies at the end of the film, and Black & Tan Fantasy is performed by the band as an expression of sadness. As a quick ending side note; the great jazz drummer on this show was Brian Sullivan, who did quite a few concerts with us in the early days. His amazing playing can be heard on my original CD “Emergence.” https://www.amazon.com/Emergence-Ziad/dp/B004BO8HJC Not only is he a great musician, but also a wonderful friend, who was kind enough to give me a few significant pointers on the New York accent. He has since gone on to become a Capuchin Franciscan Friar. It was a real 180° turnabout, but all of his friends in the jazz community are so proud of him, and I am certainly one of them! [https://www.capuchinfriars.org/news/49-brother-brian-1st-profession.html]
CONCERT: JAZZ FOR LOVERS ft. Toni Tupponce
7. AT LAST by Etta James
February 3, 2012
[Toni Tupponce-vocals, Ziad-saxophone, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Al Sergel-drums]
Ziad’s Notes: This song from the first Jazz for Lovers concert really captures the essence of the unique and special talent of vocalist Toni Tupponce. She is not only a wonderful person, but also a real stylist with her “own thing,” which is the highest compliment in the jazz idiom. Toni is married to Tyrone Jefferson, and she is program director for “A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas.” I remember working with her cousin, Langston Tupponce, on a recording project many years before I met Toni. We were hanging out in the studio, and he said “you know my cousin Toni is in Charlotte. If you wanna hear a really great singer, check her out, she’s much better than I am.” Many years later, after I did hear Toni, I saw Langston in Richmond, VA when he came out to visit us at a gig, and I relished the opportunity to say to him in person, “boy you were right about your cousin!” Toni exudes so much genuine feeling and expression when she sings--it is soul capturing to the listener. If one subscribes to the premise that love is the strongest emotion in life, then there is no better person to lead this annual presentation of love songs at Jazz at the Bechtler, than Toni Tupponce.
CONCERT: COLTRANE REVISITED
8. LIVING SPACE by John Coltrane
August 7, 2015
[Ziad-soprano saxophone, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]
Ziad’s Notes: In my early years (yes, the days of cassettes), when I first discovered John Coltrane, I went out and bought every Coltrane recording I could find. I worked my way through them when I finally came upon The Mastery of John Coltrance Vol. 1: Feelin’ Good. The first track was “Living Space.” It was completely captivating and felt other worldly. I was hooked on that song for a long time--listening to it over and over again. Throughout the years, when I would go back to it, I would have the same reaction. This is not a Coltrane song one hears performed very often--if ever. I had doubts, and I worried about whether it would illicit from the audience, the same response as mine. What I realized was that the act of performing the song requires the musicians to get in that certain emotional zone just to pull it off. The melody alone forces you to go there. As you can see, I was pleasantly surprised by the audience reaction.
CONCERT: TRIBUTE TO DEXTER GORDON
9. THE RAINBOW PEOPLE by Dexter Gordon
November 1, 2013
[Ziad-tenor sax, Noel Freidline-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]
Ziad’s Notes: John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins were the two tenor sax titans for me. But before them came Dexter Gordon. Both were so influenced by Dexter. The first few sentences from a 2018 article, “Dexter Gordon & John Coltrane Redux,” by Steve Feeney, sum it up: “Dexter Gordon was an important early influence on John Coltrane. The latter took the saxophone to another level before his untimely death, but he never lost his distinctive feel for the power and the glory of the tenor sax that Gordon exemplified over the course of his career.” Gordon influenced Trane and Rollins, who in turn influenced Dexter, as he explored hard bop and modal playing in the 60’s. The great saxophonist Johnny Griffin said that Lester Young was Dexter’s “god, but out of Lester he fashioned something that everybody copied. He had his own sound, which all great musicians have. Dexter had a way of articulating that was his own. There were few musicians who had such a big sound.'' As the great drummer, Art Taylor, once said, Dexter “was the first really modern tenor saxophonist.” The Rainbow People is the title cut from a live album by Dexter Gordon and trumpeter Benny Bailey, recorded in Sweden in 1974 and released on the Steeple Chase label in 2002. It is one of my many favorite Dexter Gordon compositions. The song and album remind me of the summer immediately following college graduation. I was performing in a big club with a nine piece dance group for thirteen days straight. During the day, I spent hours on the roof of our hotel with a music stand playing Dexter Gordon solo transcriptions. There is another side note that I discovered doing research for this concert. Dexter moved to Europe for fourteen years from 1962-1976. During that time he became very friendly with the Ulrich family. Dexter was the godfather to their son Lars, who eventually would become the drummer in the mega famous band Metallica.
CONCERT: TRIBUTE TO WES MONTGOMERY ft. Andre Ferreri
10. ELEANOR RIGBY by Lennon/McCartney
October 7, 2011
[Ziad-soprano sax, Andre Ferreri-guitar, Chad Lawson-piano, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Rick Dior-drums]
Ziad’s Notes: Wes Montgomery is one of the most influential guitarists of the twentieth century, and still is to this day. His extensive use of octaves, and style of plucking the strings with the side of his thumb, made for a very unique and distinctive sound. It was a no-brainer to do this show, and also the first opportunity to bring in Andre Ferreri on guitar. Andre was excited to do it, as he has always been a huge Wes Montgomery fan. Montgomery’s version of the Beatles song, Eleanor Rigby, was great fun to play. It was such a treat to have my close friends, Chad Lawson, Ron Brendle, Rick Dior, and Andre, all together for this show. Notice it was 2011, and we were playing on the floor, before we had a stage or a curtain-- just a year and four months since our very first concert at the Bechtler.
CONCERT: RICK SIMERLY
11. Freedom Jazz Dance by Eddie Harris
March 1, 2013
[Ziad-tenor sax, Rick Simerly-trombone, Zack Page-acoustic bass, Noel Freidline-keyboard, Al Sergel-drums]
Ziad’s Notes: It was very special to have Rick Simerly perform with my quartet. He has performed with Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Nelson Riddle, Les Elgart, Bob Crosby, Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Morrow, Billy Taylor, James Moody, Slide Hampton, Rufus Reid, Jon Faddis, Bobby Shew, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Milt Hinton, Eric Alexander, Dave McKenna, Butch Miles, Adam Nussbaum, Tommy Newsom, Pat LaBarbera, Steve Wilson, Bobby Watson and many others. Some of the entertainers with whom he has toured and performed include Frank Sinatra Jr., Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Vic Damone, Lou Rawls, Gladys Knight, The Temptations, The Spinners, The Four Tops, The Commodores and The O’Jays. He is one of the few personal connections to my teacher, Jerry Coker, author of nineteen books on jazz improvisation. Rick and Jerry did many clinics together over the years, and Rick has so many great stories. This was the first time we did a gig together, and I was nervous because I knew Rick was going to report back to Mr. Coker about his former student. He put me at ease though, and we have since developed a great friendship. Also in the audience was my first jazz teacher, Bill Hanna (trombone with Woody Herman and Stan Kenton), and also my junior high and high school jazz ensemble director, Larry Wells (Olympic High School, Northwestern High School). I was honored that they were both there. Rick is such an amazing player, and we all got such a big kick out of his cadenza at the beginning of this famous Eddie Harris tune. Pretty special drum solo by Al Sergel at the end too!
Concert: ART BLAKEY – A NIGHT IN BIRDLAND VOL. 1 & 2
12. Mayreh by Horace Silver
April 7, 2017
[Ziad-alto sax, Justin Ray-trumpet, Ron Brendle-acoustic bass, Al Sergel-drums, Noel Freidline-piano]
Ziad’s Notes: Looking back on this show, I remember it being a month out, and I was scrambling to find a trumpet player because of a scheduling mix up. I knew this would be a very challenging show musically. I called my friend, guitarist Andy Page in Boone, NC, to ask him if he knew anyone that could do it. At first he couldn’t think of anyone, then he said “oh wait a second, I know the perfect person, Justin Ray in Asheville, he tours with Michael Bublé, but I think he’s around.” So I called Andy’s twin brother, bassist Zack Page in Asheville, since he was more familiar with Justin, to ask if Justin would be the right guy for this show, and he said, “Oh yeah man, Art Blakey is his favorite music, he loves the stuff, he’ll kill it.” So I got the number and called Justin. He came over from Asheville to do the show and he “killed it.” Rehearsal was for less than an hour before the concert, and it was clear that Justin was indeed the right guy. Since then, Justin has performed with us on many shows, most recently our 10th Anniversary Concert on January 3, 2020 at the Knight Theatre. This song is a Horace Silver composition from a 1954 live recording of drummer Art Blakey’s band featuring Silver on piano, Lou Donaldson-alto sax, Clifford Brown-trumpet, Curley Russell-upright bass. It was a pivotal album that launched both Art Blakey’s and Horace Silver’s careers as bandleaders, and helped to make Clifford Brown one of jazz’s most in-demand trumpeters. Lou Donaldson carved out one of the longest careers in modern jazz history—from his first record date in 1952 into the early 2000s—and even with the hundreds of sessions and live performances to his credit, he counts this recording as a life highlight.