Time stood still, swirled around itself and in a shimmer of silence stole into the night. Zach Lapidus' farewell program shared with Frank Glover, clarinet, Nick Tucker, bass, Kenny Phelps, drums, was magic diffusing into everlasting memory.
"Tonight is a really wonderful special night for me," offered Lapidus at the sell-out 9 p.m. show. "It's the last time in the near future for me at the Jazz Kitchen. I'm leaving for New York." That, said the foursome took us into the recesses of our inner space through Chick Corea's no holds-barred "Windows," clarinet and piano runs cascading against bass and drums chasing rhythms to the meditative bass slowdown and trilling clarinet. Miles Davis must have been smiling because they nailed the memory Miles intended with circular movement inside the song -- Lapidus capturing the African finger piano coming at us from the mists of darkness, Glover's voicing filtered as through tree leaves, gospel getting into our bones. It was atmospheric and ethereal. The shape-changing "Invitation" swept us into Roy Hargrove's jazz hoedown, the four players meandering and getting us back on path only to veer off again. We'll remember Phelps nearly jumping out of his skin with his solo, Lapidus' transparent look of awe and feel of love, Glover and Tucker with sparkling smiles. We breathed and slowed down with Jule Styne's Just in Time, Tucker's base shifting and moving under the da, dee, dah luring us to move to the beat and take a virtual bow at the crescendo close. The transformative Lapidus-Glover duet "Smiles" carried us into its mellow, easy brio, bittersweet in recognition of plunging into the unknown, yet daring with bravado, bringing to mind Lapidus' self-analysis. 'I'm pretty shy, not terribly comfortable with self promotion," he posted on his almost non-existent blog. As I [see] it, I play the piano, I compose, I make computer music, I teach." A bit short of reality - he's again an American Pianist Association Jazz Piano finalist, back in company from 2010 with Emmet Cohen, and newcomers Kris Bowers, Sullivan Fortner and Christian Sand. Watch for Sept. 2014-Feb. 2015 programs and March 27, 2015, Semi-finals at The Jazz Kitchen. Finals are March 28, 2015 at Hilbert Circle Theatre with featured Grammy® Award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra.
The farewell closed with a stunning rendition of the Latin Jazz standard "Caravan," composed by Juan Tizol and first arranged and performed by Duke Ellington. Phelps opened with rim vamps setting the stage for free-wheeling tableaus by Lapidus, Glover and Tucker, finishing with Phelps' coda and a quartet flourish, showcasing memorable, magical camaraderie.