By the time pianist Adam Makowicz had played the third selection of his opening set Tuesday night at Catalina's in Hollywood, the audience had heard three different pianists. It wasn't that the Polish immigrant was sharing the stage with any other pianist, but that his predominant style is to change styles with each tune.
The opening "Moon Ray," an Artie Shaw composition and the title track of Makowicz's latest album, had the pianist working the melody with single-note lines and adding thrilling flourishes. The following "Alice in Wonderland," played at an easy tempo similar to the opener, displayed an economical style in close range that grew busier as more octaves were utilized. "Invitation," an uptempo swing tune, showed Makowicz at his busiest as he rushed up and down the keyboard, filling all the silences with sound clusters.
While each of his piano personalities served the music, it wasn't until he settled into a pair of ballads that the best of his abilities--as well as the true sense of his own musical being--were displayed.
"Opalescence," a lovely tune of his own creation, and the folksy "Indiana" both had the pianist at his economical best. Makowicz showed himself to be a fine melodist as he gently coaxed new melodies from the tunes, easing his way through inventive harmonic changes at tempos best suited to his emerging style.
Bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Sherman Ferguson, who accompanied Makowicz on his rare Los Angeles visit, were also most effective during the ballad outings.
Makowicz showed a consistent tendency to rush on the uptempo tunes. Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser," composed with a natural sense of rhythmic urgency, was made more so by the pianist pushing the time rather than the melodic figure, and "All of Me," a Gerald Marks composition that should join "Green Dolphin Street," "Autumn Leaves" and "Satin Doll" in permanent retirement, was performed at a breakneck pace that grew even faster as the tune progressed.
Makowicz closes his three-night stand tonight.