Painting his piano colors

Adrian Iaies is living proof that is doesn't matter from where you hail - it's what you do when you get to money time that matters.

Adrian Iaies is living proof that is doesn't matter from where you hail - it's what you do when you get to money time that matters. The 48-year-old Argentinean jazz pianist will demonstrate his silky keyboard skills and all-embracing stylistic approach this evening at the Tel Aviv Opera House as the first installment of this year's jazz series there. Ask the average Argentinean jazz fan about the genre and the name Astor Piazzolla will come up. But, for Iaies, Piazzolla's jazzy nuevo tango is only a part of what the pianist does. Indeed, he even questions nuevo tango's jazzy categorization. Iaies muses, "In my opinion, Piazzolla´s music does not have too many points in common with jazz. You really have to play with Astor's arrangements if you want to get from it 'that sound'." True to his eclectic ethos, Iaies will include some Piazzolla material in this evening's concert - featuring master accordionist Raul Barboza, acoustic bass player Ezequiel Dutil and drummer Pepi Taveira - along with some more mainstream jazzy endeavor. For Iaies, it is the soul and spirit of the music that shines through the strongest. "You can play [Argentinean tango musician] Anibal Troilo's 'Maria' a cappella, or in a duo format with a drummer, or in a solo piano format, or with a group. Maria will always be Maria, because Maria is an incredible piece, and has a beautiful melodic line with a group of very interesting chord changes - like (jazz standards) 'Body and Soul' or 'Alone Together'. Although Iaies says his domicile is as close to the epicenter of the jazz world as ever, but things were different when he was younger. Geographical logistics meant he had to forge his own way into the discipline. "I never studied jazz with a teacher, in the methodical and traditional way." he recalls, "My parents didn't have the ability to send me to [the US jazz school] Berklee, so I studied classical music with a very important Argentinean teacher called Manolo Juarez." Still, what Iaies lacked in direct contact he made up for by technological means. "I learned lot from jazz recordings. "[Pianists] Bill Evans and John Lewis were my main influences, and there is also [bebop father figures Theolonious] Monk and Bud Powell. I also got into some of the more 'sophisticated piano players,' like Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones and Barry Harris, but I'd have to say that Keith Jarrett is a true icon for my generation of piano players." There are masters of other instruments in his inspiration list too. "I also love [saxophonists] Stan Getz, and [Sonny] Rollins, and [trumpeters] Art Farmer and Chet Baker as well." Iaies is also a product of his generation and imbibed a wide spectrum of contemporary sounds from his home country and the west. "I love [Argentinean experimental rock musician] Charly Garcia's music - his music was the first I bought with my own money - and [Argentinean rocker Alberto] Spinetta's music. Argentinean pop music has its own identity, with a very strong color. It's very poetic, and full of romanticism. Of course, I love The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan." All those influences find their way into Iaies' artistic statement. "Right now, jazz has no special color or sound. It is a concept and a tool. It's about what you can make with the repertoire. I think the Tolstoy axiom is right. He said, 'Paint your own town.' That works for me." The Adrian Iaies quartet performs at the Tel Aviv Opera House tonight at 10 p.m. For more information call (03) 692-7777 or visit