All that jazz is good for you

Adam Bodine Trio plays from the heart

Matt Conner | Boulder Weekly

Oscar Wilde believed that “most people are other people.” He never met Adam Bodine.

The local jazz pianist and leader of the eponymous Adam Bodine Trio follows his own muse when it comes to his art, so it’s no surprise that modern jazz became the outlet for this lifelong piano player. Given the trio’s early successes, it’s fair to say that obeying his internal impulses is the right move after all.

The Adam Bodine Trio officially came together in 2008 after Bodine’s original material began to appeal to him more than the 100-plus other musical outlets he’d been playing with during college and after.

“I was constantly putting myself out there for whatever situation I could,” he says. “I’ve played in so many different kinds of musical situations — funk, jazz, bluegrass, rock ’n’ roll. I’ve even played with operas or accompanied choirs.”

Now 29, Bodine says he’s relieved and happy to play his own music. At first, writing original music was something on the side, but it soon became the only thing that interested him, mainly because of the artistic challenge.

“I wasn’t necessarily sick of playing with others and I don’t want to put that down by any means, but the original stuff was what became the most challenging for me,” Bodine says. “It became a matter of wanting to progress as a musician and develop that repertoire. I just wanted to start something on my own, and it’s been really rewarding. It’s not rewarding by selling CDs or the amount of shows or anything like that. But in the last two years, I feel I’ve really grown as a musician and feel I’m in a really good spot.”

Stepping out on his own comes naturally for the Chicago native. Even his earliest experiences as a child with the piano include moments of breaking musical convention, much to the chagrin of his teachers and competition judges. Evidence of Bodine’s penchant for obeying his inner musical guide was found at one early classical piano competition in downtown Chicago.

“I remember at the competitions, I would start to improvise on these classical pieces,” he says. “I didn’t necessarily get knocked points-wise, although sometimes I would, but the panel of judges would come to me at 10 years old because at one point I would just start to stretch it out and improvise. I didn’t really know why or what I was doing, and I wasn’t trying to cover any mistakes. It just happened. I wasn’t anti-authority or rebellious. It just came naturally.”

The trio came together when Bodine grabbed longtime friend and fellow musician Kalin Capra to play upright bass. A rotating cast of local drummers rounds out the Trio when available for recording sessions and live performances, but Bodine insists he trusts and enjoys playing with each.

Recently, Bodine and company have found local traction performing in front of storied acts like The Bad Plus and Robert Glasper. A recent gig placed them with the former, providing an exciting yet stressful night playing for some of his primary influences.

“We’re huge fans of The Bad Plus, and it was really a privilege to play and be there that same night,” explains Bodine. “They stuck around for a good hour of our set and that was really cool, yet slightly nerve-wracking. Those are some guys who we really respect, and we have all of their albums, [guys] who have definitely been a huge source of inspiration for me and for the group. So that was really cool.”

Still, as a new group, Bodine admits he’s trying to leverage the experience and credibility that comes with playing in front of jazz legends and national touring acts. He describes each event, like a recent stint with Eddie Gomez, as both a learning experience and a “resume piece.”

The uphill climb of the digital music age can be taxing, so Bodine finds the most joy in the higher profile shows.

“The whole music business can be really frustrating, so moments like that really make it all worth it,” he says.

With varied influences from legends like Miles Davis and Frank Zappa to modern pianists like Brad Meldhau or Herbie Hancock, audiences of all ages are bound to enjoy themselves at an Adam Bodine Trio show. After all, the greatest jazz musicians can be described in the same individualistic fashion.

“Jazz really has a demand for self-expression,” says Bodine. “That’s a huge part of it. So when I play tunes, it really reveals my personality, but it also tells how I’m feeling and gives a mood to certain things. With each note I’m playing, I’m trying to immerse myself in the instrument and stay true to myself to get that out there.”

On the Bill

Adam Bodine Trio plays the St. Julien Hotel at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 29. Event starts at 6:30 p.m. 900 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-406-9696.