Jazz pianist Allan Zavod shines with his lively technique and interpretation on the art-deco style, midnight-blue 9-foot Steinway Rhapsody Grand, adorned with 400 mother-of-pearl inlaid stars and a music stand boasting the New York skyline.

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SYMPHONY, GUEST DAZZLE WITH GERSHWIN

Article by: Nicole Rattinger   (Special to the daily news)
Featured in The Palm Beach Daily News (Florida)
December 2001

Jazz pianist Allan Zavod shines with his lively technique and interpretation


The Greater, Palm Beach Symphony presented "A Tribute to George Gershwin's America" at The Colony Pavilion.

Australian jazz pianist, composer and arranger Allan Zavod was the symphony's guest, accompanied by bassist Al Greenstein and drummer Robert Menaquale.

The concert also featured a quartet of young singers from Palm Beach Atlantic College: soprano Melissa Walstrom, mezzo-soprano Rebekah Pridmore, tenor Joshua Rowell and baritone Christian Ramos.

Before any music was heard, all eyes were on the art-deco style, midnight-blue 9-foot Steinway Rhapsody Grand, adorned with 400 mother-of-pearl inlaid stars and a music stand boasting the New York skyline.

Commissioned by Steinway, the instrument was a tribute to on of Americas greatest composers and cities.

Marilyn Mims, a Palm Beach Atlantic College voice faculty member, sang a strong, confident and patriotic God Bless America, encouraging the full house to sing along.

Following Mims, a Palm Beach introduction, the quartet presented a crowd pleasing set of familiar Gershwin tunes, accompanied by pianist Melissa Eilers. Included were the ensemble arrangements of 'Strike Up The Band', 'Someone To Watch Over Me', ''S Wonderful' and 'Clap Yo' Hands'. The group exhibited exceptional poise and charm, combined with impressive intonation, balance and blend.

Without intermission, Zavod, Greenstein and Menaquale took the stage, beginning with the rendition of Strike Up The Band". Zavod's pianistic abilities were impressive.

His technique was lively and limber, and his music often took intriguing turns, building on ideas. Gershwin's Summertime was a well thought out journey, from haunting and mellow to wild and upbeat.

His Solo, Someone To Watch Over Me, was a collage of shifting moods punctuated by sentence like rifts and transitions. The Can't Take That Away From Me was again a mélange of sound. His Staccato phrases were offset by smooth, legato accompanying phrases.

Unfortunately, Greenstein and Menaquale couldn't keep up with him. They overshadowed the gentle A Foggy Day in London Town, and became more & more tedious as the program progressed. Greenstein was a capable bassist technically, but was consistently and noticeably out of tune.

Zavod's finale, an exuberant and strong Fascinatin' Rhythm with a Rhapsody In Blue finish, left the duo in the dust.

Zavod would have been better off solo. The other musicians were, through most pieces, a distraction. Still, the audience loved Zavod's music, rewarding him at the end of his set with a unified ovation.

The program concluded with a complete and forceful rendition of the Rhapsody In Blue , performed by the Palm Beach Symphony's artistic adviser and pianist, Alan Kogosowski. His strong and classical technique, different from Zavod's jazz style, pushed the Steinway to its fortissimo limits and excited the crowd to their feet at the concert's close.



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