Bobbe ‘Beegie’ Long Adair, formative hub of Nashville jazz scene, dies at 84: NPR

Courtesy of the artist’s representative

Bobbe "Beegie" Adair.  The prolific pianist and community builder died on January 23, 2022 at the age of 84.

Courtesy of the artist’s representative

Pianist and bandleader Bobbe “Beegie” Long Adair’s impact and influence extended throughout the Nashville musical community, but it particularly resonated among jazz fans and players there. Adair, who died at her home in Franklin, Tennessee, on Sunday at age 84, was a master of interpretation and melodic embellishment, a superb soloist and a formidable accompanist who could adapt to any situation. while delivering distinctive sound.

“She could play anything, in any key or at any tempo,” Nashville Jazz Workshop (NJW) co-founder and fellow pianist Lori Mechem said Monday. “She was amazing in terms of every tune she knew, whether it was the American Songbook or a country song. There was literally nothing you could bring out that she couldn’t play and play well.”

Adair’s extraordinary career, spanning more than six decades, exemplifies this stylistic versatility. A Kentucky native and graduate of Western Kentucky University with a BS in music education, Adair came to Nashville in 1961. As a session musician, she recorded with everyone from Dinah Shore and Peggy Lee to Ray Stevens. , Steve Allen, Chet Atkins, Mama Cass Elliott, Vince Gill and Dolly Parton. His contributions to broadcasting included being part of groups for The Johnny Cash Show, Ralph Emery’s Morning Show and the Midday show on WSM-AM, seat of the Grand Ole Opry. At one point, she even had a jingle business with husband Billy Adair, helping create music for commercials.

But more than anything else, Adair’s role in building and growing Nashville’s jazz structure was the foundation: there were many milestones, including the Adair-Solee quartet, with saxophonist Denis Solee (which later became the Be-Bop Co-Op), and cut 35 studio albums with his trio of bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown; Adair teamed up with Spencer and Mechem to help start the Nashville Jazz Workshop; she jammed at clubs in Printer’s Alley and across town with Boots Randolph and Hank Garland, and was instrumental in bringing national attention to the city’s jazz, bringing her trio to Carnegie Hall and the legendary venue. Birdland Jazz.

Among Adair’s many other accomplishments are hosting a radio show, improvised thoughts, for NPR and twice as replacement host for Marian McPartland on piano-jazz. His prolific recordings are featured on over 100 albums.

“It was such a joy to play with her,” recalls Spencer. “There were never any problems with song selection or pacing, and she was the perfect pianist to accompany.” Getaway to New Yorkhis debut album with bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, “The Real Thing”, his first live date which spent 20 weeks in the JazzWeek Top 20.

Among his many honours, he was named a Steinway Artist in 2002, awarded to just 1,600 pianists, spanning the entire idiomatic spectrum. She was inducted into the Western Kentucky Hall of Fame and her hometown’s “Cave City,” and was the first recipient of NJW’s premier heritage award.

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