He makes it look so effortless.

As a (former) classical pianist, I can tell you that manipulating 88 keys on a piano is anything but, and to form those keys in such an elegant and entertaining way so as to hypnotize your listeners – well, that’s just simply awe-inspiring.

Yeah, maybe I’m sounding like an 8-year-old kid watching her handsome teacher at the blackboard (translation = I MIGHT be smitten) but it’s not unfounded.

On Sept 13th, the Kevin Hays Trio graced the audience with two outstanding sets at the Hilton Harrisburg (Downtown), many from Hays’ latest CD, You’ve Got a Friend, which includes the Monk classic Think of One as well as Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters. But it was Hays’ magnificently-executed rendition of You Are My Sunshine that blew me away. And I’m sure I was not the only one: you could hear a pin drop during that tune. In the vernacular: He laid this thang down!

Following the performance he did the artist thing: signed CDs, schmoozed, etc., but what was even more impressive to me was that he took “a moment” to speak with me for my “After Hours with…” piece (written for CPFJ’s member newsletter). That “moment” turned into 45 minutes where we chilled.

We laughed.

I gawked.

(Yeah, definitely smitten.)

Up next: Some 22-year-old kid they call Eldar. Check out that post later.

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Welcome to the first posted blog of the Central PA Friends of Jazz (CPFJ).

CPFJ prides itself on the outstanding quality of jazz it promotes. We feel privileged to provide only the best jazz artists to the Central PA area, and even more privileged to have had the opportunity of doing so over the past 30 years.

In this, our 30th year, we will continue the trend – however, we’ve raised the bar in terms of direction for the organization: We open our 30th year with a heart-pounding Piano series that will knock your socks off!

September will bring us the improvisational style of Kevin Hays. In October, the jazz phenomenon that is Eldar will perform. And we close our Piano Series in November with National Endowment for the Arts 2010 Jazz Master Cedar Walton.

January, February and March brings us jazz guitarist Bobby Broom, The Allen/Whitaker Project, and the incomparable Freddy Cole, respectively.

And as if these weren’t enough: We are anticipating one of our biggest jazz festivals ever in June 2010. It will be one for the books! Watch for upcoming blog posts as we finalize our arrangements; you’ll be most impressed so make sure to block out those dates once we post them – and GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY!

Buckle your seatbelts…(don’t say I didn’t warn you).