Saxophonist Ziad Rabie is bringing jazz to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. His group, the Ziad Jazz Quartet, which also includes Noel Freidline on piano, Ron Brendle on acoustic bass and Rick Dior on drums, kicks off its third season at the museum on Oct. 5 with Families in Jazz. The set connects to the exhibit “Giacometti: Memory and Presence.” Rabie, the eldest son of the late Palestinian-American poet Diab Rabie, takes the theme of family and artistic passion to heart, playing each gig like it might be his last.
Q. How did you start the jazz quartet? (The Bechtler was) trying to start a jazz series. I called some musicians that are good friends and asked if they wanted to perform . We do tributes to different artists and the musicianship is extraordinary.
Q. Why were you attracted to jazz? I started playing when I was 10. I got into high school and started playing in a jazz ensemble. My father was in the nightclub business so I was exposed to music from an early age . (The saxophone) lends itself to the jazz medium so it was a natural thing for me to seek out that type of music or be exposed to it. It became a part of me, something I couldn’t live without.
Q. How did your dad’s poetry influence your music? My dad was a very philosophical guy. We used to have discussions about art in the abstract because even though we were involved in different art forms, art is art and it’s the same correlation between art and the museum and the music. My dad influenced me quite a bit, maybe some of it is genetic, but I think growing up around a person who is very artistic-minded was a big influence.
Q. How does playing jazz make you feel? It’s very in the moment, it’s mental, it’s somewhat intellectual but mostly emotional. You have to immerse yourself in it. It’s a very freeing experience and it’s exciting and it’s one of the greatest feelings you can have. It’s very easy to take it for granted, but I’m thankful every day that I can play music. I try to play like it’s going to be my last day because it’s a wonderful thing.
Q. What would your dad have said about the success of your quartet? I’m sure he would have been extremely proud. He was involved with some of the biggest names in music – (jazz pianist) Count Basie played in his club. (But) he knew the life of a musician and he was afraid for me to be in that world. Once he saw I had a little bit more than the average talent, he turned a corner.