Dick Morgan, the legendary dean of Washington DC jazz piano returns with his powerhouse quartet to the Mainstay in Rock Hall on Saturday March 24 at 8:00 pm. Admission is $15. For information and reservations call 410-639-9133. Information is also available
at the Mainstay’s website .
The Dick Morgan Quartet is Dick Morgan on piano, Steve Abshire on guitar, Bertell Knox on drums and Dave Jerigan on bass. They play a surprisingly muscular form of swing that thoroughly engages an audience.
Mainstay founder and director Tom McHugh says that Morgan “is quiet in demeanor and a consummate gentleman, but when he takes command of 88 keys, he is a giant. Morgan is in his 80’s, and continues to swing with robust energy. He will move from a Simon and Garfunkel tune, to an Oscar Peterson classic and not miss a beat. Don’t miss this jazz master.”
Morgan is thoughtful about his connection to his audience. “You make sure that nothing that you think would transcend what you are currently doing” when you are with an audience, Morgan said. “At that moment, it’s something that clicks on, and, if you are very aware, you can do something… I can feel it by playing. You just go from one form to another until you have found the right kind of thing.” That kind of thing could be standards from the Great American Songbook, surprising arrangements of familiar tunes like “Elinor Rigby” and classical themes like “On the Trail” from Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite” or some of his own swinging or reflective compositions.
Morgan is a living link to the history of jazz. As a child in Petersburg, Virginia, he amazed adults with his ability to play anything he heard but when he landed his own local radio show at the age of 10, he was playing for and with well-known jazz artists stationed at nearby Fort Lee. “Until then, my thing was just playing what I heard,” says Morgan. “They taught me how to play jazz. I was lucky to have learned from the best.” As a teenager, he played for Duke Ellington who was very encouraging.
He was a favorite of the legendary Tommy Dorsey, and in his 60-year career he has performed with such artists as Joe Williams, Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd. He has played jazz festivals and clubs all over the world and nowadays he performs regularly at the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, at jazz festivals and on jazz cruises.
Julian “Cannonball” Adderly arranged Morgan’s first recording contract on the Riverside label, where he was featured on a jazz piano album that included Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and Billy Taylor. He then made his own recordings with Riverside and more recently on Foxhaven.
The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street. It is a 501(c)(3), non profit dedicated to the arts, serving Rock Hall, MD and the surrounding region. It is committed to presenting local, regional and national level talent, at a reasonable price, in an almost perfect acoustic setting. Wine, beer, sodas and snacks are available at the bar.
The Mainstay is supported by ticket sales, fundraising including donations from friends and audience members and an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.
For information and reservations call the Mainstay at 410-639-9133. More information is also available at the Mainstay’s website.
Upcoming Mainstay performances include:
April 1 Kevin Clark Quartet
April 13 John Jorgenson Quintet
April 15 Alturas Duo
April 21 Tempest
April 29 University of Delaware Jazz Ensemble
May 3 Max’s Mainstay All-Stars Reunion