Jazz Orchestra Plays It Fast, Sweet

A couple of cuts from Count Basie’s band and its predecessor, Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra, showcased the mind boggling speed of the SJO’s Brent Edstrom on the piano. It was as if Edstrom had three hands as his left made blurring leaps from bass to middle keys and his right tickled high notes at digital speed, (Gunther) Schuller said it’s rare for him to perform with a pianist dexterous enough to reproduce the high-velocity melodies. Edstrom dazzled the audience with two more solo pieces before the night ended.

Spokesman-Review, January 27, 2003 By Isamu Jordan

Precision Jazz

This Saturday night, he (Gunther Schuller) returns to the Met to conduct more jazz…Schuller teams up with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra for an evening of truly repertory jazz from the swing era of the 1930’s through the early ’50’s…Conducting such works is a rare pleasure for him. “This is extremely difficult…You won’t believe your ears when you hear the fantastically fast tempos. This is only the second time I’ve had the opportunity to work with a pianist talented enough to play these pieces,” Schuller said. He’s referring to Saturday night’s featured pianist, the SJO’s Brent Edstrom.

Spokesman-Review January 24, 2003 By Isamu Jordan

Bach Fest Pleasurably Surprising

This year’s festival took an unusual turn Saturday with a concert at the Spokane Club, which furnished “Bach With A Twist,” as the program title had it. Gunther Schuller, the festival’s artistic director is famous as a historian of jazz.

But the local leadership surprised Schuller by scheduling a musical match between harpsichordist Mark Kroll playing Bach straight and the Brent Edstrom Trio – Edstrom on piano, with bassist Brian Flick and drummer Rick Westrick providing the same music in a jazz version.

Before the classical listeners Saturday had a chance to cringe at the thought of such sacrilege, the players showed how vibrantly Bach’s music – in this case seven movements from the “Goldberg” Variations – could respond to such varied approaches. The modern Jazz Quartet’s John Lewis and his harpsichordist wife, Marijana, invented the chess match idea in the 1950s.

I was particularly intrigued at how easily Edstrom and his cohorts made the opening aria glide over Bach’s bass line, adopting a swing version of some of the original’s melodic figures. Kroll has been over this territory many times and was able to fill Bach’s virtuoso demands without flinching. And the Edstrom trio players, new to this game, fell right into line showcasing Bach’s melodic resources, whether in the piano part or in Flick’s solos in the bass’ high register. Westrick furnished quietly inventive ideas with brushes on the drums. This was chamber music that would have caused Bach to flash a surprised smile, just as others in the audience did.

Spokesman-Review February 19, 2007 By Travis Rivers

Musicians Simply Soar On ‘Flights’

The Spokane Symphony and conductor Morihiko Nakahara took their audience on “Flights of Fantasy” Friday at the INB Performing Arts Center. Tim Reis was joined by the fine playing of pianist Brent Edstrom and percussionist Rick Westrick. The elegiac slow movement showed a quiet interplay among the three solo instruments against an orchestral cushion of sound.

Spokesman-Review, January 26, 2007 By Travis Rivers

Jazz Season Opener A Schuur Thing

The Spokane Jazz Orchestra kicked o” its 30th season Friday night at the Met by bringing singer/pianist Diane Schuur back to town for the first time in 23 years…Pianist Edstrom propelled the Basie band arrangement of “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” There was a repeat performance of Edstrom’s own “It was a Dark and Stormy Night,” a playful, Duke Ellington meets the Wolfman sort of a”air that the SJO debuted last season.

Spokesman-Review By Rick Bonino

Jazz Orchestra Swings With Dance Masterworks

Saturday’s concert will again highlight Brent Edstrom’s ultra-intricate piano solos, succinct jazz that is indicative of the era and and Pulitzer Prize winner Schuller’s trademark talks on jazz history. The bulk of the pieces will demand more of the lilting leaps and light-speed bounds of the stride piano style that floored the audience in January. Edstrom has been boning up for this show since the last one. And he’s been transcribing similar works by Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, and Fats Waller over the last decade.

Spokesman-Review, March 2003 By Isamu Jordan

Region’s Jazz Talent Shines At SJO’s Season Debut

Saturday night’s concert was a sampling of the quality of talent and skill in both jazz composition and performance in our neck of the woods…Edstrom’s “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” was written specifically for the seaon opener. It was exacly the night’s highlight Keberle promised.

Spokesman-Review, October 20, 2003 By Isamu Jordan

Repaving The Way

Joining the SJO as special guest pianist is Brent Edstrom, who will be featured as soloist on several of the program’s pieces…Edstrom frequently lends his formidable talents to the SJO. “The music Gunther [Schuller] picked out for this concert to feature the piano is extraordinarily di!cult, demanding, and very exciting,” says SJO trumpeter Craig Volosing. “When Gunther first shared his wishes to do these kind of pieces, both Dan (Keberle) and I assured him that we really did have, in Brent, a world-class pianist who could be counted on to get the job done.”

Inlander, January 2003 By Mike Corrigan