Bechtler’s jazz man proselytizes for his music

For nearly five years Charlotte musician Ziad Rabie and his jazz quartet have been featured musicians at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art’s popular “Jazz at the Bechtler” monthly music series.

Band leader Ziad Rabie, has advice to those who have not caught the jazz bug: “I tell them to come out and try it, give it an honest experience and see what they come away with and whether they are interested in it going forward,” he says. “I think it’s a nice journey to go on.”

Ziad spoke about the popular jazz series (which sells out every first Friday in the museum lobby) and his mission to introduce jazz to a new audience.

Q. Why do you think the Jazz at the Bechtler series has been so popular?

A. It was presented in a concert format in an art environment, where all this wonderful modern art is on display. It was the perfect thing. I think the combination of the venue, the music and the musicians and the way things materialized brought that audience out. It drew them to the series and drew them to the music.

Q. Are you surprised by its success?

A. I really didn’t know that there was an audience for this type of jazz music in Charlotte. I think it’s because the club scene in Charlotte never really presented the music in a way that was really that respectable.

Q. For someone who has never attended Jazz at the Bechtler, how would you describe it?

A. I would say it’s a very organic experience, and the music is what captivates people, seeing the communication between the musicians and experiencing the electricity that happens from that communication. It’s spontaneous, and it’s being created right in front of their ears and eyes.

Q. When you’re not at the Bechtler, what are you doing?

A. I do a club thing on Mondays at the Double Door Inn. I’ve been playing with this group called the Monday Night Allstars for a couple of years. They’re all a bunch of friends who I never get to see, so the opportunity arose for me to perform with them. We have a lot of fun playing an eclectic mix of R&B songs and rock songs and reggae songs and all kinds of stuff. Then on Tuesdays, I play at the same club with my first jazz teacher, Bill Hanna. And then the rest of the time I’m freelancing, and I still have a group that does private events.

Q. What’s the most gratifying part of your work?

A. Being able to spread this amazing art form to new people and get people excited about it and listening to it. … The opportunity to do that, and in some small way make more people aware of this great American music that we all love so much.