Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Under the spotlights the shiny black Steinway concert-grand piano stood silently glistening as people poured into their seats.
Jazz pianist Taylor Eigsti was set to go on. Some knew that he was no stranger to Skidmore College, having occupied the piano chair a few years back in jazz drummer Eric Harland’s quartet as they played in the old Filene Recital Hall.
This time around, however, Eigsti would perform unaccompanied in front of the magnificent, all-glass backdrop of the Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall within the Zankel Music Center.
A round of applause greeted Eigsti as he walked across the stage and sat down before the keys. Head bowed with hands at the ready, within seconds he launched into the evening’s repertoire.
His carefully chosen mix of jazz standards, contemporary pop tunes and self-penned originals straddled the vast dynamic extremes of the instrument from soft, whispering melodies to a repetitive thunderclap of notes punctuating that particular composition’s refrain.
Early in the set, Eigsti expertly played Dave Brubeck’s “My Own Sweet Way,” followed by a Fred Hersch composition from a decidedly jazz perspective. But where he shined most brilliantly was on an original tune that he wrote for the soundtrack of the upcoming Tony Kaye thriller, “Detachment.” The abstract, cinematic sweep of the melody was at once both haunting and contemplative.
Eigsti is a widely respected jazz pianist who dares to show his classical, rock and pop sensibilities in a jazz context. His repertoire in Saratoga Springs on that Friday night also included Rufus Wainright’s “The Art Teacher” and the late Nick Drake’s classic “Pink Moon,” both of which were drawn from Eigsti’s latest album, “Daylight at Midnight.”
Performed as one continuous set, the controlled ebb and flow of Eigsti’s repertoire and performance was so gloriously seamless that before you knew it, the last notes of the encore had faded away amid a standing ovation, signalling the end of the concert.