Co-hosting the Friday night Semi-Finals was a treat. Any time you share a stage with Matthew Socey you have to be ready for anything. I was more than happy to be his “sidekick” and let him navigate us through the Finalists’ performances that night.
The scene at The Jazz Kitchen was electric. The capacity crowd couldn’t wait to hear the guys perform their sets.
The Finalists were all balancing nerves and energy as they waited patiently for their turn to play. Each would come and stand “off stage” in the hallway that leads from the back of The Jazz Kitchen through the kitchen and connects to the basement stairs and the door to the stage. Matt and I watched and listened from that spot as we waited for our turns at the microphone. I also had a number of terrific conversations in the ladies room with Sullivan’s sisters and Kris’ mom! During the “half time” of the show, I was live ON AIR in the very back room of The Jazz Kitchen – interviewing various American Pianists Association folks and of course Dianne Reeves and Christian McBride. It was a late, late night for all, but worth it.
Co-hosting the Saturday night Finals was even more of a thrill for me. Having had the pleasure of interviewing each of the Finalists over the past few months, I really wanted to “see” what they had talked about when I had asked each of them what they thought performing at Hilbert Circle Theatre would be like.
That entire day brimmed with excitement and energy from the morning rehearsals till the ON AIR countdown that night. But how could it NOT have been a magical musical evening??
Christian McBride hosting.
Dianne Reeves performing.
The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra as the “house band.”
And, Hilbert Circle Theatre transformed into a sleek jazz nightclub.
Add the incredible talents of Kris, Sullivan, Emmet, Zach and Christian.
The WFYI Productions videographers followed the action from every angle.
And the audio engineers made sure the night was as pure to the ear as to the eye. I smiled from the moment I walked into the Circle Theatre that morning until I took the after show sip of champagne in the mezzanine as those attending raised a congratulatory glass to Sullivan Fortner, who was named the winner, and to the American Pianists Association for a job well done.
SEPTEMBER 3, 2015 (9 PM) BROADCAST ON WFYI-TV (20.1)
Join me live on WFYI-FM (90.1) on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 5:44 PM (or online at www.wfyi.org) as I interview the American Pianists Association’s President/CEO & Artistic Director, Joel Harrison about the final product that airs that night at 9 PM on WFYI-TV (20.1) (or online at www.wfy.org/APAJazzFinals).
Photography by Mark Sheldon and Clayton Taylor