This story recently appeared in the winter 2012 edition of Harker Quarterly.
Taylor Eigsti returned to a sold-out Nichols Hall auditorium on Sept. 28 to kick off the third season of the Harker Concert Series. Performing to a very enthusiastic crowd, the 27-year-old jazz piano phenom again dazzled an audience made up of everyone from budding jazz fans to longtime aficionados.
The slow, lilting chords of Eigsti’s version of the jazz standard “Cheryl” coursed through the auditorium as the show began. The trio soon brought up the volume, and Eigsti gave ample room to his partners to display their knack for tasteful soloing, in addition to showcasing his own immense chops.
For the last song of the first set, a rendition of Kenny Dorham’s “Lotus Blossom,” the trio was joined by Eigsti’s longtime friend and Harker middle school music teacher Dave Hart on trumpet. Hart navigated the songs shifting times and rhythms in seemingly effortless fashion and also showcased his formidable improvisational skills.
During the intermission, guests at the show remarked about the quality of the venue and reception. “It’s wonderful,” said Vickie grove of Portola Valley, a longtime Taylor Eigsti fan who attended last year’s concert. “I love the venue. It’s small. The food is excellent. It’s really fun.”
Among the more emotionally charged pieces performed was “Distressed,” which Eigsti composed for the 2011 film “Detachment,” starring Adrien Brody. Fittingly, Eigsti performed with no accompaniment for this brooding piece, which was at times also dissonant, plodding and atmospheric.
Eigsti finished the show with the uplifting, groove-driven “Magnolia,” whose rousing mid-section and calming final moments drew a well-deserved extended ovation.