My men's league basketball game ran into overtime, so I arrived at the Palladium's Side Door club just in time for boogie-woogie piano master Bob Seeley to go on break. I was surprised, and pleased, to see a sell-out crowd of 150 lingering around the tables, the crowd made up mostly of retirees.
Seeley, based in Detroit, is 80, but doesn't look it and he certainly doesn't play like you might expect an 80-year-old to play. He's a firebrand with remarkable technique. After doing brisk CD sales at the merch table, and a set by locals Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues, Seeley took to the baby grand and wowed the joint.
Whereas most jazz piano features the player's right hand, with the left hand laying out chordal accents, boogie-woogie highlights the left hand, which pounds out a steady stream of eighth notes.
Not to say that Seeley's other paw was sub-bar; he used it to execute some marvelous runs.
Boogie-woogie, played on solo piano like last night, is one of the most exuberant, joyous sounds to emanate from the annals of American music. Seeley sure proved that.
His show-stopper piece was "Mama Don't Allow," an old-time number that Seeley used to strut his skills in boogie, ragtime, stride, Charleston, Ellingtonia ("Take the A Train"), Gershwin ("I Got Rhythm") and more. He blasted through the piece with supreme confidence and good humor.