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Beegie Adair, Jazz Master in the Capital of Country Music, Dies at 84

Beegie Adair, as a celebrated jazz pianist, all the more notable in the place where she built her career – Nashville, home of country music – died on January 23 at her home. Grandma in Franklin, Tenn. She is 84 years old.

Monica Ramey, her manager and frequent associate, confirmed the death. She did not provide a cause but said Ms Adair had been in poor health.

If you happen to live in Nashville and find yourself more of a fan Cole Porter than Porter WagonerYou’ve most likely met Ms. Adair at some point in her six-decade career. Beginning in the early 1960s, she could be found at least once a week playing at Carousel, a downtown nightclub, or later at F. Scott’s, a restaurant in the Green Hills area. .

Being a jazz musician in Nashville is like being a surfer in Las Vegas, and those who do it need flexibility and hustle – qualities Miss Adair has in abundance.

She played hotel lobbies and retirement homes. She and her husband, Billy Adair, wrote jingles for television commercials. And she is in constant demand as a session musician, appearing on more than 100 albums by a wide range of artists, including Dolly Parton, Henry Manciniand Mama Cass Elliot.

“She was omnipresent,” Roger Spencer, bass player in the Beegie Adair trio, said in an interview. “If there was a chance to play, she was there.”

Ms. Adair mainly plays standard American songs, with a restrained and relaxed technique. She adapts to the place: If it’s a restaurant, she steps back; In a club, she can dominate the room.

“I’ve played with her in every musical setting you can play in Nashville over the years,” said George Tidwell, a veteran Nashville jazz trumpeter. “And I’ve never played anything where I don’t think she’s the right person to do it.”

She released her first album, “Escape to New York,” in 1991. A few years later, she formed her own trio, with Mr Spencer on bass and Chris Brown on drums. They toured regularly, including trips to Tokyo and London. Starting in 2011, they played annual gigs at Birdlandin Midtown Manhattan, and later added regular shows at Feinstein’s / 54 Below, also in Midtown. They have recorded 35 albums and, according to Ms. Ramey, have sold about two million copies over the past four decades.

Back home, Ms. Adair was the de facto head of the Nashville jazz scene, especially during the rough times of the 1970s and ’80s when venues closed and gigs were few. What keeps her going is the understanding, not always obvious to an outside observer, that the landscape is larger than imagined, with musicians playing country music for money and jazz for themselves. , even if it means nothing more than meetings in someone’s basement.

She told The Nashville Banner in 1997: “There’s a lot of great jazz players here that don’t get to hear it very often because they work in the studio all the time. players underneath their skin. “

Bobbe Gorin Long was born on December 11, 1937 in Cave City, Ky., a small town located between Nashville and Louisville. She began taking piano lessons at the age of 5 and by her teens she was playing in clubs in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Her parents, Bobbe (Martin) Long and Arthur Long, run a gas station where young Bobbe also worked when she wasn’t playing the piano. To distinguish her from her mother, her father called her “BG”, after her first two letters, and this nickname has remained.

Ms. Adair graduated with a degree in music education from Western Kentucky University in 1958. After teaching music for three years in Owensboro, Ky., she moved to Nashville for a graduate degree in education at Peabody College, now is part of Vanderbilt University.

But she built a career as a musician in clubs downtown, particularly along Printers Alley, then and now the center of Nashville nightlife. In 1963, she quit Peabody to play music full time.

Ms. Adair arrives under the guidance of the saxophonist Launch Randolpha Carousel resident musician best known for his 1963 hit”Yakety Sax. He got her gig and introduced her to many of the city’s producers and studio managers, who, although they mostly recorded country music and rock ‘n’ roll, always looking for talented and reliable musicians.

Another local music celebrity, guitarist and producer Chet Atkins, was the first to invite her to join him as usual at his recordings and his recommendations were giving her a steady stream of work in and out of the studio. She played in the home band for “The Johnny Cash Show” and for the local TV presenter Ralph Emery (who also died this month).

She married Mr. Adair in 1974. He passed away in 2014. No immediate family members survived.

Mr. Adair was a fine musician in his own right, and he built a career as a lecturer, eventually becoming a professor at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. In 1995, the couple, along with Mr. Spencer and his wife, Lori Mechem, started the Nashville Jazz Studio.

The workshop has trained a new generation of jazz musicians in Nashville, and in recent decades the scene here has begun to bounce back, with former students of the school beginning to gain the recognition of nation. In 2016, Ms. Adair and her trio were invited to play Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York.

“The best thing for us was that there were so many fans from Nashville in attendance,” she told The Nashville Scene in 2016, a few days after the show. “I think our appearance is another indicator that people across the country recognize that there are great jazz musicians here and that there is an audience for the music.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/arts/music/beegie-adair-dead.html Beegie Adair, Jazz Master in the Capital of Country Music, Dies at 84

Fry Electronics Team

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