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JAZZ REVIEW : Tapscott Displays Magic

July 18, 1994|ZAN STEWART

Wearing a black skull cap with three glass stones affixed to its front, a black shirt and green trousers, Horace Tapscott had the look of a wizard as he sat Friday at the grand piano in the open courtyard of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. And produced his own brand of magic at the keyboard, as he and his longtime accompanists--bassist Roberto Miranda and drummer Fritz Wise--kicked off the first in a series of three Friday evening shows at LACMA.

Tapscott, who has a 30-plus year career as a pianist and composer, has never gotten strong mainstream jazz acceptance. But he's acknowledged as a godfather of the Los Angeles avant-garde jazz scene, and his considerable talents are sought out by avid fans.

Friday, Tapscott proved again why he has such enduring appeal, as he offered improvisations that were based as much on spur-of-the-moment whims--chords slammed down that sent slivers of color everywhere--as smooth, detailed melodic runs.

"Lino's Pad," a classic Tapscott composition, segued mercurially between a section that was underpinned by an alluringly rhythmic bass figure and a quasi-march drum beat, another section that was rhythmically loose and two areas of driving swing.

Two jazz waltzes were given muscular workouts. On John Lewis' "Skating in Central Park," Tapscott offered lines that wobbled like skaters off balance, then later he dropped in a clatter of chords that sounded like a Fifth Avenue traffic jam.

* Horace Tapscott's trio plays Friday and July 29, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m., at the Times Mirror Central Court, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Free. Information: (213) 857-6000 or 857-6115.

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