By Graham Gerdeman

I finally made it out to one of the TN Jazz and Blues Society’s great new “Sessions at Steinway” events at the Steinway Gallery in Nashville. This one featured one of the truly great drummers of jazz and popular music, Chester Thompson.

Man, was it a treat.

The events feature performances and interviews, kind of like “Inside the Actor’s Studio” or Marion McPartland’s “Piano Jazz.” Not only was the crowd given the thrill of Chester and his trio’s virtuosic playing, but we were given stories of a life and career in music that has been truly blessed – from his first bands in the Baltimore area to his getting the call to be in Frank Zappa’s band – and later Weather Report – to discussion of his life backing the legendary Genesis and Phil Collins – and points in between. We got to hear inside and frank dialogue concerning the dynamics of playing and writing with Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter (“Let’s run aroud the music!”), internal band politics between Peter Gabriel and Genesis – not to mention Chester’s hilarious story about his bus driving gig in Baltimore. And so much more.

Local drummer Nioshi Jackson also did a first rate job as interviewer and emcee. Brilliant pianist Chris Walters and bassist Roger Spencer filled in for Chester’s regular trio and shone like the stars they are.

In other words, music fans should stay tuned to this series and get in on a really cool thing.

Concerts in the series for the first half of 2015:
March 7, Dara Tucker
April 4, Don Aliquo
June 6, TBA


Graham Gerdeman is a Nashville-based photographer and videographer, and an active member of the Nashville jazz community. For more photos from Sessions at Steinway, visit his Facebook page, Graham Gerdeman Photography.