David Osborne Trio brings piano mastery to town

     The Phillips County Arts Council kicked off its 2017-18 concert season last Friday night with a whirlwind performance by pianist David Osborne and his trio. Las Vegas-based Osborne along with bassist Denny DeMorales and drummer/vocalist Paul Stubblefield were a musical tour de force leading the audience of about 150 through a wide variety of musical genres.
     A preshow video gave a brief history of Osborne’s musical development from his early years as a music student to landing a prestigious position as pianist to the presidents. Thus far in his career, Osborne has performed at the White House 62 times for six different presidents. He has also performed for the past 33 years at President Jimmy Carter’s birthday celebrations.
     Osborne and his trio took to the stage, bedecked in sharp, black tuxedos and opened the show with a unique version of Coldplay’s “Clocks,” which cleverly morphed into the piano classic “Autumn Leaves,” complete with Roger Williams-esque descending chromatic scales representing the falling leaves.
     Next up was an extended medley of Frank Sinatra hits including “Witchcraft,” “Strangers in the Night,” “All the Way,” “New York, New York” (which had the audience clapping along) and “Fly Me to the Moon,” with drummer Stubblefield adding his rich, smooth vocals.
     Stubblefield, a veteran of many classic vocal groups, including The Platters, would add his voice to several songs throughout the evening, including a beautiful rendition of Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” and the haunting “Unchained Melody.”
     Before launching into a medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs, Osborne related a story of a performance at the Regan White House when Webber was actually in attendance and told Osborne not to play any of his songs. When Osborne relayed this information to Nancy Regan, she quickly informed him that he was to go ahead and play Webber’s songs because they were some of the president’s favorite music.
     After intermission Osborne performed some of his arrangements of popular songs such as “Hotel California,” Adele’s “Someone Like You,” “Let it Go” from the Disney film “Frozen” and Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” with heart-felt vocal by Stubblefield.
     At one point, while chatting with the audience, Osborne invited Wade Martin, grandson of Judy and Randy Martin, to join him at the piano for a duet version of “Mary had a Little Lamb.” The audience gave them an enthusiastic ovation.

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