January/February 2004

Taylor Eigsti

On Resonance (Bop City), pianist Taylor Eigsti shows excellent versatility and unusually mature technical and improvisational skill for a 19-year-old. He plays notes with amazing technical precision and a soulful bebop attack-fast and furious at times, soft and warm at others.

Turning heads with his first national release, the University of Southern California student and Presidential Scholar is quick to point out he was only 17 when he made the album.

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Taylor Eigsti

"The music on Resonance is good, and I'm proud of it, but right now I am progressing into a musical direction," says Eigsti, who hails from the San Francisco Peninsula. "Incorporating different kinds of music and elements of funk, I want to make my music accessible but not dumbing it down. Keeping the sophistication of jazz harmony but approaching it with a joy that younger people can relate to a little easier."

With his ace rhythm section of double bassist Jason Lewis and drummer John Shifflett (along with special guest Christian McBride), Eigsti returned to the studio in December to do a follow-up for Bop City. Once again his "Uncle Bud" Spangler, the noted Bay Area radio and records producer, oversaw the album.

Eigsti has played piano since age four. His guiding force is his mother Nancy (his father passed when he was 12), who kept the handsome and athletically inclined Taylor on the bench practicing. But the "whiz kid" tag is a double-edged sword, says Eigsti. "Age has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that given my age I can reach a younger crowd. One of my goals is to get people under the age of 25 into what I am doing. A curse because some people view my music to some degree through a lens of youth. I am progressing and developing and want people to treat the notes I play seriously, whether they like or dislike them. But view them as the notes themselves and not [because] of age."

The pianist is looking to block out time between semesters to tour and help promote his music. He's come a long way since he opened for David Benoit at age eight. This April NPR will broadcast his well-deserved appearance on Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland during its 25th anniversary month. It was an experience he'll never forget. "We joked around a lot," Eigsti says of the 85-year-old host. "Some of it got too raunchy and had to be edited out. She is a hilarious person."

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