Adam Makowicz is a magician of the keyboard. At the National Press Club last night he played several standards, a couple of his own and a blues, causing melodies to take different forms, disappear entirely and surface again with different faces and different characters. But don't mistake his dazzling technique for empty prestidigitation. Beneath the intrepid skids on the ivories is a sensibility that imbues the ballads with romanticism, the blues with soul and the tearaway flights with humor.
"My Shining Hour" nodded to Art Tatum with its arpeggios and a "Pop Goes the Weasel" quote. Makowicz's touch on "Falling" was so soft that the effect was as a harp strummed. "St. Louis Blues" was abstracted with truncated phrases and wobbly dashes that remade the number.
Bassist Tommy Cecil, who had never before played with Makowicz, necessarily leaned on the score for some of the tunes. Even that was a high wire act, considering the virtuosity of technique and complexity of style of the Polish pianist. But on one uptempo number on which Makowicz set him loose, Cecil threw away the balancing bar and closed his eyes, which seemed to say that he didn't need it after all.