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Jeremy Siskind On Piano Jazz

Pianist Jeremy Siskind seems to be on everybody's short list these days. A recent graduate of the Eastman School, he has won several impressive competitions and was one of only 12 pianists nationwide chosen for Marian McPartland's list, too.

At the start of the session she recalls, "When I heard him play, I knew I must have him on Piano Jazz right away."

You can understand why when he starts things off with a tender, wistful version of Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark."

There is something about the way that McPartland and Siskind play together — they're simpatico, like two halves of the same musical personality. The changes they play, the way each uses the left hand, the harmonies they string together give one the feeling that these new friends have actually played together for a long time. The joy they have playing together is contagious. You can feel it in their versions of "There'll Never be Another You," and Oscar Peterson's "Kelly's Blues."

When McPartland asks him to suggest a song for her to play, Siskind, a self-described Stevie Wonder fanatic picks "All in Love is Fair." She plays it with such feeling and style that that he tells her at the end, "That was gorgeous."

During the session, McPartland and Siskind play a number of jazz standards like "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Autumn Leaves." But they also pull out a couple of surprising tunes. McPartland plays one of them when Siskind asks if she can remember the first tune she learned. It's a lovely performance of a seldom-heard song by English playwright/composer/performer Noel Coward, "Someday I'll Find You."

The other surprise is Siskind's arrangement of the standout tune from the rock musical Rent. "Seasons of Love" begins with a tinkling piano line that recalls the tune's opening lines, but Siskind adds "a little spice" taking the standard rock beat into a 5/4 rhythm.

McPartland says afterward, "Well, you've got some spice in it alright!"

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alfred Turner