Monday, May 12, 2014

Portland Prime: Pianist Tony Pacini

This past Saturday night, my wife and I went out to hear some music. We didn't have definite plans, but after having a nice dinner, but we wanted to hear something good. We ended up at Portland Prime, which is right in the middle of downtown Portland. Since we had already eaten, we decided we would split a dessert and have (non- alcoholic) drinks. Our bill came to about 15 dollars without tip; we split a Berry Cobbler, I had a ginger ale and Kerry had hot tea. However, the music we heard for essentially free was amazing and an incredible bargain; The Mel Brown Trio featuring pianist Tony Pacini and bassist Ed Bennett is truly a Portland gem.

Most Portland jazz fans know who Mel Brown is; he plays at Jimmy Mak's three times a week with
Tony Pacini and Mel Brown
various bands. He's a wonderful drummer and has the history of playing with some of the great Motown acts. The driving force behind this trio is Mr. Pacini, who is impressively steeped in the old school jazz piano tradition and puts his own refreshing stamp on everything he plays. One thing that was really refreshing was to hear some different repertoire; not only did Pacini call some more obscure jazz tunes, like Duke Ellington's "Love You Madly," but he played a Monty Alexander tune and a Michel Petrucciani tune. ( Some people like to hear tunes they know. I also like to hear tunes I don't know; why play the same tunes all the time? There are so many- if you get bogged down in the same tunes all the time, you'll never learn any!) Pacini has fluid chops and a dynamic touch; it reminded me of Amhad Jamal and Oscar Peterson with perhaps some George Shearing and Milt Buckner and Errol Garner thrown in for good measure. He's truly a virtuoso. It really inspired me and my wife(also a pianist); I spent some extra time practicing this weekend thanks to Pacini's dazzling performance.

This trio of Brown, Bennett, and Pacini has been playing every week for 18 years. They really have some stuff worked out! Jazz happens on the bandstand and this is a perfect example of when it's happening. I urge jazz lovers and especially students of jazz to take advantage of Portland Prime on Saturday nights; I felt like I got a lesson for 15 dollars that should have cost hundreds. Go hear the music!

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